Several Iranian officials on Friday denied allegations that the regime shot down a Ukrainian International Airlines plane, killing all 176 people on board.
Ali Abedzadeh, head of Iran’s national aviation department, said that “what is obvious to us and we can say for sure is that no missile has hit the plane,” according to the state-run Tasnim News Agency. “The aircraft was flying for more than one and a half minutes after it caught fire,” he said.
He also rejected claims lodged by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and unnamed American officials who said that Iran likely shot the plane down with a missile, perhaps by accident.
“If U.S. politicians have received any data on the crash of the Ukrainian plane, they have to declare it to the world through ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization),” Abedzadeh remarked.
At the same time, another Iranian aviation official said the evaluation of the black boxes of the Boeing 737 that crashed near Tehran will start on Friday, according to the state-run IRNA news outlet. The black boxes contain the flight recorder and cockpit voice recorder.
That data will be transmitted and evaluated at a “suitable laboratory,” the report said. If that doesn’t work, Iran’s Director-General of Accidents/Incidents for the Investigation Board of Iran Civil Aviation Organization Hassan Rezaiefar said Russia, France, Ukraine, or Canada can help download the information.
“We have intelligence from multiple sources, including our allies and our own intelligence,” Trudeau told reporters on Thursday at a news conference. “The evidence indicates that the plane was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile. This may well have been unintentional.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Fox News that he didn’t rule out the possibility that mechanical failure downed the plane, which had more than 60 Canadian nationals on board.
“It’s possible it’s mechanical failure, but we’ll have to see if, in fact, it’s the case that there was something more insidious than this,” Pompeo said, according to a State Department transcript. But if Iran was involved, he stressed that “the American people should know that this would have been Iranian malfeasance that caused it.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky also stressed that people should not speculate yet on what caused the crash.
“The missile theory is not ruled out, but it has not been confirmed yet,” he said on Facebook before calling on international experts to share relevant data related to the crash.
To bolster the claim that the plane was shot down, a video was posted by several news outlets, including The New York Times, CNN, and Associated Press, that appeared to show a missile or projectile striking a plane. The NY Times and AP said it appeared the plane was flying over Tehran in the area where the Ukrainian Airlines flight stopped transmitting signals.
Ukraine Airlines flight PS752 crashed near Tehran shortly after takeoff from its international airport after Iran fired more than a dozen missiles at Iraqi bases housing U.S. troops. Iran said it fired the missiles in retaliation after an American drone strike killed a top Iranian commander, Qassem Soleimani.