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The New Arab Staff

Iran is sending downed Ukraine airliner black boxes to Paris for investigation

The black box could provide important clues about how the jetliner was downed [Getty]

Date of publication: 11 June, 2020

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Iran has decided to send the damaged black boxes of the downed Ukrainian jetliner to France.
Iran intends to send the black boxes from a downed Ukrainian plane to Paris for analysis, following months of pressure from countries across the world who want to investigate how the jetliner was taken down.

Tehran informed the UN's aviation agency on Wednesday that the black box, which records all data on a flight including flight control and engine performance, will be sent to Paris, once countries involved in the investigation agree, two sources familiar with the matter said.

The Ukraine, Canada, and the US are involved in the investigation.

This comes after Iran state media said the black boxes will be of "no help" to the investigation.

"Even though the investigation is nearly complete and the contents of the boxes will be of no help for the investigation, we are ready to give them to a third country or to a [foreign] company," Mohsen Baharvand, deputy foreign affairs minister, was quoted as saying by the official IRNA news agency.

Flight 752, a Ukraine International Airlines jetliner, was struck by a missile and crashed shortly after taking off from the Tehran airport on 8 January.

Iran initially refused to hand over the flight records from the Ukraine International Airlines flight, but then in March Iran told the UN’s aviation agency that it would send the black boxes to Ukraine.

On Wednesday, however, a representative from Iran told a virtual meeting of the agency’s covering council that Tehran would send the damaged records to France’s BEA air accident investigation agency.

"Iran said they will send them to Paris soon subject to agreement of the states involved in the investigation," said one of the sources who spoke on condition of anonymity.

In the immediate aftermath of the crash, Iranian civilian authorities insisted it was likely caused by a technical malfunction, vehemently denying claims the plane was shot down.

But in the early hours of 11 January, the Iranian military admitted that the plane was shot down due to "human error", resulting in the deaths of 176 people, mainly Iranians and Canadians, including many dual nationals.

Ottawa has demanded for several months that Iran, which does not have the technical means to decode the black boxes, send the items abroad so that their content can be analysed.

After Tehran said in March it was ready to transfer the black boxes to France or Ukraine, Canada's Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne guardedly welcomed a "step in the right direction", while noting that he would judge Iranian authorities on "their actions and not just their words".

In his interview with IRNA, Baharvand implied that Iran had certain conditions for transferring the black boxes abroad, but did not elaborate.

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