Well, Iran’s tune on this has changed very quickly.
Iran’s foreign minister, Javad Zarif, has just admitted that Iran shot down a Ukraine International Airlines 737-800 a few days ago, killing all 176 people onboard. As he stated in a Tweet:
A sad day. Preliminary conclusions of internal investigation by Armed Forces:
Human error at time of crisis caused by US adventurism led to disaster
Our profound regrets, apologies and condolences to our people, to the families of all victims, and to other affected nations.
This was accompanied by a military statement, indicating that the plane was mistaken for a hostile target after it turned towards a sensitive military area:
“The military was at its highest level of readiness. In such a condition, because of human error and in an unintentional way, the flight was hit.”
The country has said that they’ll upgrade their systems to prevent such mistakes in the future, and that responsible parties would be referred to the judicial department and be held accountable.
On the one hand, on some level I have to give Iran credit for admitting this, as there are plenty of governments that would have tried to cover something like this up, even if there was evidence making it pretty clear what happened.
Not surprisingly, there’s also some blame shifting here — they’re emphasizing that crisis was “caused by US adventurism,” and that “led to disaster.” Personally I think the apology would have come across as more sincere if they left that out, though at the same time I don’t think the cause and effect conclusion is completely off base.
The US government shouldn’t be blamed directly or indirectly for the accident. At the same time, I think it’s also fairly likely that if the US hadn’t escalated the situation with Iran, this probably wouldn’t have happened. That’s not to say that the US is at fault in any way, but I do think there’s a cause and effect relationship here.
This revelation follows Iran claiming that the plane had a technical fault immediately following the crash, in spite of no evidence pointing in that direction.
We’ve seen international intelligence agencies suggest that the plane was shot down, and video footage has even surfaced of the alleged incident. This has caused some airlines to already cancel flights to Tehran.
This is an absolutely terrible and heartbreaking tragedy. There’s no other way to put it.
Maybe Iran owning up to this at least gives some closure to the families of the victims, rather than not knowing what happened, and going through a drawn out investigation that’s more about politics than the lives lost.
I’m curious to see what will happen following this admission, both politically and in terms of the impact on aviation in the country.