Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that evidence indicated that the Ukrainian plane that crashed near Iran’s capital Tehran “was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile.”
“We have intelligence from multiple sources, including our allies and our own intelligence,” Trudeau said at a press conference in Ottawa, without providing further details. “The evidence indicates that the plane was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile.”
He added that the strike “may well have been unintentional” and called for a “complete and credible investigation” into the cause of Wednesday’s crash, which killed 63 Canadians.
The crash came hours after Iranian missiles struck bases hosting U.S. forces in Iraq in retaliation for the killing of a senior Iranian general.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson backed Trudeau’s claims, saying in a statement late Thursday that there was now a “body of information that the flight was shot down by an Iranian surface to air missile.”
“We are working closely with Canada and our international partners and there now needs to be a full, transparent investigation,” Johnson said.
All 176 people on board the Ukrainian International Airlines (UIA) Boeing 737 passenger jet died when it crashed in a field shortly after take-off.
Iran says the plane went down due to a technical problem but authorities in Ukraine investigating the crash said in a Facebook post that they were not ruling out the possibility the plane was hit by a missile.
Ukrainian investigators are considering four possible scenarios, Alexey Danilov of the Ukrainian Security Council wrote on Facebook.
These include the possibility that the plane was hit by a Russian-made Tor missile, Danilov said.
The investigators include experts who helped determine that an anti-aircraft missile shot down Malaysian flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine in 2014, he added.
The other scenarios are a collision with a flying object such as a drone, engine damage and a terrorist attack.
U.S. President Donald Trump added to the speculation on Thursday, saying that he has his “suspicions.”
“It’s a tragic thing, but somebody could have made a mistake on the other side.
“Some people say it was mechanical. I personally don’t think that’s even a question,” Trump said when asked about the crash at a White House event.
The head of the Iranian aviation authority, Ali Abedsadeh, said it was “scientifically impossible” that the Ukrainian jet was shot down by a missile, calling the rumours “illogical.”
Several other planes were in Iranian airspace at the time of the crash, according to Abedsadeh.
There is perfect coordination between the Iranian military and civil aviation authorities, otherwise, planes would not dare to fly in its airspace, he said.
A thorough investigation into the cause of the crash is under way in cooperation with the Ukrainian airline and the manufacturers of the aircraft, he added.
Abedsadeh also announced on Iranian television late Thursday that in addition to the team of experts from Ukraine, Iran had invited Boeing experts from the U.S., Canada, and France to Tehran to investigate the cause of the crash.
The investigation is to be led by the Iranian aviation authority.
The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said in a statement that it had received formal notification from Iran and that “the NTSB has designated an accredited representative to the investigation of the crash, involving a Boeing 737-800.”
The Iranian foreign ministry has confirmed the participation of the Boeing experts.
According to the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) regulations, initial investigations into the crash will be conducted by Iran.
However, if the necessary hardware and software for an investigation are not available in Iran, it will be conducted in another country, Abedsadeh said.
Iranian President Hassan Rowhani and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky had a telephone conversation about the crash on Thursday, according to a statement on Iran’s presidential office website.
The presidents have agreed to close cooperation between their foreign ministries to clarify all aspects of the disaster, the statement said.
Iranian Transport Minister Mohammed Eslami rejected speculation about a “suspicious” crash, the Iranian news agency ISNA reported.
“The plane caught fire due to a technical defect, and this resulted in a crash,” Eslami said.
Both black boxes have been found and are being examined by Iranian aviation experts.
Both the black boxes – which record key flight data – and passengers’ remains are to be handed over to Ukrainian authorities, the minister said.
All nine crew members aboard the flight were Ukrainian citizens, the president’s office said.
Most of the victims were Iranian and Canadian citizens. (dpa/NAN)