Iran Denies Shooting Down Ukraine Flight, Calls for Boeing to Investigate

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks at a news conference on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, U.S., September 26, 2019. (REUTERS/Brendan McDermid)

Iranian officials on Friday denied reports from American and European intelligence agencies that the country shot down a civilian passenger plane shortly after attacking U.S. positions in Iraq.

Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 from Tehran to Kyiv was shot down by an anti-aircraft missile battery, according to U.S. officials. President Trump suggested on Thursday that the incident was the result of an error, saying “somebody could have made a mistake on the other side.”

“What is obvious for us, and what we can say with certainty, is that no missile hit the plane,” Iran aviation department head Ali Abedzadeh said at a press conference. “If [Western goverments] are really sure, they should come and show their findings to the world.”

Abedzadeh also invited officials from Boeing to come to Iran and join the investigation.

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The head of the Iranian investigative team, Hassan Rezaeifar, said Iran would not share the aircraft’s black box flight recorders, at least until the country had completed a study of them. The team may reach out to international experts if it is unable to extract the recordings, Rezaeifar said, but the investigation could take over a month to fully retrieve the black box data. After that, the investigation itself could continue for up to a year.

Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau confirmed that Canada intelligence believed the crash was caused by a missile strike. At least 63 Canadian citizens were on board the aircraft.

“The evidence indicates that the plane was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile,” Trudeau said on Thursday.

In total, 176 people died in the crash, mostly Iranian and Canadian citizens. While Ukraine International Airlines has yet to comment on the incident, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky has said his country “will conduct a detailed and independent investigation” into the crash.

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