Civil Aviation Organization of Iran chief Ali Abedzadeh insisted Friday it was “obvious” an Iranian missile had not shot Ukraine International Airlines (UIA) Flight 752 out of the sky on Wednesday.
The flight had departed Tehran’s international airport early Wednesday en route to Kyiv when, shortly thereafter, it burst into a ball of flames and crashed. All 176 passengers on board died. Ukrainian, Canadian, and American officials have stated they believe it is possible a Russian Tor surface-to-air missile, which Iran is known to possess, could have shot down the plane.
The incident occurred as Iran launched a barrage of ballistic missiles in the direction of Iraqi military facilities hosting U.S. troops. Tehran affirmed the missile attack, which caused no casualties or property damage, was a response to a U.S. airstrike eliminating Iran terror chief Qasem Soleimani. A mob of pro-Iran militants storming the U.S. embassy in Baghdad prior to the airstrike had spray-painted “Soleimani is our commander” on its walls.
— Nafiseh Kohnavard (@nafisehkBBC) January 2, 2020
Both Iranian officials and state propaganda outlets have aggressively refuted evidence indicating missile fire. Iran’s Civil Aviation Organization preliminary report on the crash determined that the plane’s engine caught fire mid-air and the crew attempted to make an emergency landing but failed. Abedzadeh reiterated that claim on Friday.
“[W]hat is obvious to us and we can say for sure is that no missile has hit the plane,” Abedzadeh reportedly said at a press conference, according to Iran’s Tasnim news agency. “The aircraft was flying for more than one and a half minutes after it caught fire.”
He went on to repeat the Iranian government line that the plane’s black boxes, which Iran has refused to let Boeing or other governments inspect, do not have full retrievable memory as they were damaged in the crash. He hinted at the possibility that Tehran would hand over the black boxes to the government of Russia – an ally of Iran’s widely believed to be behind the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in Ukraine, a government Russia continues engaging in active military hostilities at press time.
“We need special software and hardware which are available in our country, but if we fail to extract the data due to the damages of the black box, we will get help from other countries,” he said.
PressTV, an Iranian government outlet, listed Russia among the potential countries that could receive access to the boxes if Iran does not manage to retrieve their contents on its own.
Abedzadeh also called the evidence that a missile downed the plane “illogical rumors” and the theory “impossible.”
PressTV also carried comments from government spokesman Ali Rabiei on Friday calling the claim that Iran shot the plane down a “big lie” and blaming the United States for it. No American official has statedly plainly that evidence suggests Iran shot a missile at the plane; President Donald Trump merely told reporters that he had “suspicions” regarding the fate of the UIA flight and that “somebody could have made a mistake.”
The first public official to state that evidence suggested a Tor missile attack was Ukrainian Security Council Secretary Oleksiy Danilov. President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Friday that the theory had not been “ruled out,” shortly after leftist Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau similarly indicated Canadian officials believed this to be the case. Some American mainstream outlets attributed similar remarks to anonymous American officials, but none have made them on the record.
“It is unfortunate that the psychological operation of the U.S. government, and those supporting it knowingly and unknowingly, are adding insult to the injury of the bereaved families and victimizing them for certain goals by propagating such fallacies,” Iranian spokesman Rabiei said on Friday. “However, we can state it with certainty that no missile has hit this airplane. The plane was flying for over 1.5 minutes while it was on fire, and the crash site shows the pilot had decided to return [to the airport].”
“No one will assume responsibility for such a big lie once it is known that the claim is fraudulent,” Rabiei concluded.
PressTV falsely attributed the theory to the Pentagon.
The propaganda outlet also smeared Boeing by highly publicizing critical internal emails about an unrelated plane model, the 737 MAX, which an internal email described as “designed by clowns who in turn are supervised by monkeys.”
Another state outlet, the Fars News Agency, offered yet another false article claiming that the United States circulated the corroborated theory that Iran shot down the plane: “to manipulate the stock market.”
“On Wednesday, Boeing’s shares plummeted by 2.3 percent ($3.4bn) after the Ukrainian Boeing 737-800 aircraft crashed in Tehran due to encountering a technical glitch,” Fars claimed. “On Thursday, the stock rose by 3 percent after unnamed Pentagon officials claimed that the Ukrainian passenger plane was most likely brought down by anti-aircraft missiles, and US President Donald Trump implicitly supported the claim.”
The objective, it concluded, was to “overshadow Trump’s failure in Iraq,” where Iran lost its most important military leader and the U.S. suffered no damage.
Multiple reports out of Tehran indicate that the Iranian regime completed an operation to destroy all evidence at the crash site before inviting international inspectors in. Multiple photos from several outlets appear to show debris destroyed and piled up, making it difficult to find any shards of missiles or other evidence, if they existed.
— Richard Grenell (@RichardGrenell) January 9, 2020
(Deleted previous tweet to clarify terminology)
Images of heavy machinery in use at the #PS752 crash site: right (35.561029, 51.104018) and left (35.559296, 51.104630)
— Giancarlo Fiorella (@gianfiorella) January 9, 2020
Iran allowed international inspectors on the site after these photos were taken.