Recovery workers at the site of a Ukraine passenger jet crash near Tehran, Iran, January 8, 2020
Ukraine is pressing Iran for a proper investigation of the Iranian military’s downing of a Ukrainian flight, killing 176 passengers and crew, on January 8.
Foreign Minister Vadym Prystayko said, as Iran’s Roads Minister Mohammad Eslami, visited Kyiv that Tehran’s “main task is to apologize and acknowledge what happened.”
He added, “We hope that we can go a little further than just political discussions and discuss practical problems. Among them in particular is the return of the black boxes.”
An Iranian air defense crew fired two missiles at Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752, hours after Iran fired missiles at two Iraqi bases in retaliation for the US assassination of Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani on January 3.
The proximity missiles tore apart the Boeing 737 jet with shrapnel, downing it outside Tehran.
The Iranian military lied that the flight suffered catastrophic engine failure and removed evidence from the crash site. It was only under international pressure that the military and President Hassan Rouhani admitted the real cause three days later.
Rouhani, whose Government said it was not told by the military of the circumstances around the crash for 48 hours, has pledged an investigation. The commitment has been echoed by Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani and judiciary head
But last week Afghanistan, Britain, Canada, Ukraine, and Sweden — all of whom had nationals among the victims — issued a joint statement calling for a “thorough, independent, and transparent” inquiry.
On Sunday, Canadian Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne echoed the Ukrainian request for the handover of the black boxes “as quickly as possible”.
However, Hassan Rezaeifar, overseeing Iran’s investigation, said that while Tehran might comply, “as of yet, we have made no decision”.
Prystavko protested on Monday:
At first they stated that they were handing them over, then the same person stated that they were not handing them over.
This created some misunderstanding in Ukraine and we were starting to be asked: “Are they being handed over or not?”
At his meeting with Eslami, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said, “In the matter of clarifying the circumstances of the tragedy, the Iranian party had complied with most arrangements.”
But he pressed, “I promised the families and relatives of the victims, I promised the people of Ukraine that the truth will be established. We must know what happened.”