Iranian officials said lower-level officers had confused the plane with an American cruise missile. (AP: Ebrahim Noroozi)
Iran seems to have backed down on its promise to send flight recorders from a downed Ukrainian plane that shot down for analysis abroad, a day after authorities said they would be sent to Kiev.
- Iran’s Revolutionary Guard accidentally shot down a Ukrainian plane, killing 176 on board
- It was reported that a senior Iranian official said both black boxes would be sent abroad for analysis, and that Iran had no plans to do so.
- Canada, which had 57 citizens on board, has requested that the boxes be sent quickly to France or Ukraine.
Hassan Rezaeifar, head of the accident investigation unit of the civil aviation authority of Iran, was quoted by the state news agency IRNA on Sunday (local time) saying that “the flight recorders of the Ukrainian Boeing are in Iranian hands and we don’t have plans to send them. “
He said Iran was working to recover data and recordings from the cabin, and that it could send flight recorders, commonly known as black boxes, to Ukraine or France.
“But so far, we have not made a decision,” Rezaeifar said.
The same official was quoted by the semi-official Tasnim news agency on Saturday saying that the recorders would be sent to Ukraine, where French, American and Canadian experts would help analyze them.
Iranian officials previously said black boxes were damaged but could be used.
It was not immediately possible to reconcile conflicting accounts.
‘Iran has a way to choose’: Canada
The Canadian government, which had almost 60 of its citizens on the plane, said Sunday that the boxes should be sent quickly for analysis by experts in France or Ukraine.
Canadian Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne, who met with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Friday in Oman, said in a note to his Iranian counterpart that “Iran has a way to choose.”
“When he tells the world that he takes full responsibility, that brings consequences,” including full transparency, Champagne wrote.
@CanadaFP: Minister Champagne joined his counterparts in #Ukraine, #Sweden, #UnitedKingdom and #Afghanistan to honor the memory of the victims of the tragedy of flight # PS752.
Iranian Revolutionary Guard air defenses shot down the plane shortly after taking off from Tehran on January 8, killing the 176 people on board.
Hours earlier, the Guard had launched ballistic missiles against US troops in Iraq in response to Washington’s assassination of Iran’s main general in Baghdad, Qassem Soleimani.
In the hours after the incident, Tehran said the accident was caused by a technical problem.
Three days later, Iran admitted its responsibility and said the lower-ranking officers confused the plane with an American cruise missile, after Western leaders said there was strong evidence that the plane was hit by an earth-air missile.
The victims included 57 Canadian citizens, as well as 11 Ukrainians, 17 people from Sweden, four Afghans and four British citizens.
Champagne (far left) has asked Iran to take full responsibility for the incident. (AP: Frank Augstein)
The majority of those killed were Iranians.
The other five nations have demanded that Iran accept full responsibility and pay compensation to the families of the victims.
The plane was an American-made Boeing 737-800 with engines from the French-American joint venture CFM International.
Researchers from both countries have been invited to participate in the research.
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