Ukraine and Canada Slam Iranian Report Into 2020 Plane Disaster
(Bloomberg) -- Ukraine and Canada rejected an Iranian report into last year’s shooting down of a Ukraine International Airlines passenger plane as cynical, incomplete and aimed at absolving the Islamic Republic of responsibility for the disaster.
The report, published by the Civil Aviation Organization of Iran on Wednesday, contained “no hard facts or evidence,” Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau and the country’s Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said.
In an emailed statement they said they “remain deeply concerned about a lack of convincing information” on what led the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps to strike the Boeing 737 plane with two missiles in the early hours of Jan. 8 2020, shortly after taking off from Tehran.
Canada is set to release the findings of its own investigation within the coming days, according to the two Canadian ministers.
All 176 people on board the Boeing 737-800 were killed. The crew was made up of Ukrainian nationals and the vast majority of passengers were Iranians, 57 of whom were also either citizens or residents of Canada.
In a statement posted on twitter, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister, Dmytro Kuleba, said an analysis of the 285-page final report by Iran showed officials had made “numerous violations of international standards” during its technical investigation into the incident and also tried “to hide the true causes” behind what happened.
The harsh rebuke of Iran’s investigation comes at a time of heightened tension between Tehran and the U.S. over the beleaguered 2015 nuclear accord and the Biden administration’s continued use of sanctions against the Islamic Republic. Iran has pledged to compensate the victims’ families but has faced international criticism for its handling of the debacle.
In February the U.N’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights published a report that was highly critical of Iran and found the country had “violated multiple human rights obligations” in shooting down the plane and attempted to “mislead and bewilder” in its subsequent efforts to explain or obscure the chain of events.
Last year, after an initial effort to cover-up the military’s role, officials blamed human error among personnel within its air defense forces. Wednesday’s report reiterated that conclusion as well as earlier statements that the jet was mistaken for a cruise missile at a time when the country’s military was on high alert following their strike on U.S. bases in Iraq, hours earlier.
That operation was in retaliation for former President Donald Trump’s assassination of top Iranian general, Qassem Soleimani, in a drone strike in Iraq on Jan. 3, 2020.
The final report by the CAOI, published on its website, identified four key failures by Iran’s military, without specifying a branch or unit, including an error in the alignment of a TOR M1 short-range defense system, “defective communication” between military and civilian airspace officials, misidentification of the plane, and failure to follow required routine command procedures for launching missiles.
According to the report, a single individual or “operator” had detected the plane as a “target” and fired the missiles. Despite announcing the plane’s specifications to the command center, his message didn’t arrive and wasn’t even recorded, the report said, adding that the individual went ahead and fired the missile without receiving a response and then proceeded to fire a second missile at the plane almost 30 seconds later.
The report does not name the operator or anyone else involved in the chain of command or identify the specific military unit involved. It provides details of the parts of the plane that were recovered from the crash site, a transcript from the cockpit recovered from the flight recorders and findings into the extent and nature of the damage to the aircraft’s various sections.
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