Ukraine rejects Iranian conclusion of 'human error' in downed passenger plane

Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 was shot down by Iranian forces in January amid their strikes on US military positions in Iraq.

al-monitor Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba leaves a joint press conference after bilateral discussions in Berlin with his German counterpart Heiko Maas (not pictured) on June 2, 2020.  Photo by Photo by FABRIZIO BENSCH/POOL/AFP via Getty Images.

Jul 14, 2020

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said today that it is too soon to say whether the Iranian government’s position that Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 was targeted by mistake is true.

“I want to clearly emphasize: It is early to say that the plane was shot down as a result of human error, as the Iranian side claims,” Kuleba said, as reported by Reuters. “We have many questions, and we need a large number of authoritative, unbiased, objective answers about what happened.”

Flight 752 took off Jan. 8 from Tehran for the Ukrainian capital, Kiev. Shortly after takeoff, Iranian forces fired a missile at the civilian jet — killing all 176 people on board. The same morning, Iran was in the middle of striking US military positions in neighboring Iraq in retaliation for the US airstrike that killed Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad days earlier.

Iran took several days to admit that its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps had shot down the airliner; the downing prompted outrage in Iran.

Iranian aviation authorities concluded that the strike was the result of human error in a report released Saturday. They said a misalignment of the country’s air defense system as well as communication errors led to the downing of the plane. Iran’s Civil Aviation Organization considers this report to be factual, but not final, according to Agence France-Presse.

The Iranian government described the incident as a “disastrous mistake.” Last month, Iran said it would turn over the Boeing 737-800’s black box flight recorders to France for further investigation. International experts, including from the United States and Ukraine, are to participate in the analysis of the black boxes' data.

An Iranian delegation is scheduled to arrive in Ukraine to discuss compensation later this month, according to Reuters.

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