U.S. Officials Believe Ukrainian Passenger Plane Was Shot Down By Iran
The United States has a “high level of confidence” that Iranian missiles shot down the Ukrainian plane that crashed minutes after takeoff near Tehran on Wednesday, killing all 176 people on board, according to The Wall Street Journal.
With increased tensions between the U.S. and Iran over the assassination of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani, the investigation into the cause of the Ukraine International Airlines flight is likely to be “thorny,” the Journal noted.
The official explanation from Iran is that the plane experienced technical failures and had turned back toward the Tehran airport, catching fire before it hit the ground.
But many are not buying this version of events, including Ukraine, where officials have indicated they are considering several scenarios, including “a strike by an antiaircraft missile, a collision with a drone, an engine explosion or a blast inside the aircraft as a result of a terrorist attack.”
The timing of the crash — just hours after Iran retaliated for Soleimani’s death by striking two Iraqi bases where U.S. troops were housed — has raised skepticism over Tehran’s explanation for the incident.
A U.S. official told the Journal on Wednesday that “data transmitted via satellite indicated everything was normal on the jetliner until the sudden loss of data and the fatal dive,” suggesting to some air-safety officials that some type of hostile act could have occurred.
According to International Civil Aviation Organization standards, “the home country of the airline and the makers of the plane and its major systems are each entitled to appoint a representative to participate in crash probes,” the Journal noted, but it is unclear to what extent the U.S. or Boeing will be permitted to participate in the investigation.
Ali Abedzadeh, head of Iran’s Civil Aviation Organization, said earlier this week that access to the black box recorder would not be provided to Boeing or the United States.