US gives Ukraine 'important data' on Iran plane crash

US gives Ukraine 'important data' on Iran plane crash
3 min read
10 January, 2020
Ukrainian officials have received 'important data' about the crash of Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737 flight out of Iran.
The Ukrainian plane crash killed everyone on board [AFP/Getty]
US officials have given Kiev "important data" about the crash of a Ukrainian airliner in Iran, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko said Friday.

All 176 people on board died when Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737 went down near Tehran on Wednesday, shortly after Iran launched missiles at US forces in Iraq in response to the killing of a top Iranian general in a US drone strike in Baghdad.

American, British and Canadian officials say intelligence sources indicate that Iran shot down the plane, perhaps unintentionally, but this has been denied by Tehran.

"President Volodymyr Zelensky and I met with US representatives," Prystaiko said on Twitter. "We have received important data which will be processed by our experts."

Zelensky was due to speak to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo about the crash at 3 pm (1300 GMT), the minister added.

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"The version of a missile is not ruled out, but it has not yet been confirmed," Zelensky said on his Facebook page.

He asked for Ukraine to be given all the information needed to conduct a thorough investigation.

"Our goal is to establish the undeniable truth," he said. "The value of human life is above all political motives."

In-depth: A decades-long battle: The Iran-US rivalry explained 

Oleksiy Danilov, the secretary of Ukraine's national security and defence council, said Thursday that investigators were pursuing several leads, including a strike with a surface-to-air missile such as a Russian-made Tor, a collision with a drone, engine failure or a terror attack.

Russia's Interstate Aviation Committee, which investigates aircraft incidents, said Friday that it was ready to assist in the probe but that Iran had not asked Moscow for help.

Iran's civil aviation chief Ali Abedzadeh insisted on Friday he was "certain" a Ukrainian airliner which crashed outside Tehran this week was not hit by a missile.

"One thing is for certain, this airplane was not hit by a missile," Abedzadeh told a news conference in Tehran after Britain and Canada both said intelligence sources suggested a catastrophic error by Iranian air defence batteries had downed the aircraft.

"The information in the black boxes ... is crucial for the aviation organisation to make a statement," Abedzadeh said, adding that they were intact and under examination.

Dismissing allegations against Iran, he said that "any remarks made before the data is extracted ... is not an expert opinion."

Read more: Missile attack or engine failure? The possible causes of the Iran plane crash explained

The statements from Britain and Canada came as eyewitnesses and video footage emerged that appeared to show the moment the airliner was hit.

The footage, which The New York Times said it had verified, shows a fast-moving object rising to an angle into the sky before a flash is seen, which dims and then continues moving forward. Several seconds later an explosion is heard.

To add further suspicion to Iran's investigation, reports emerged on Friday morning of the crash site being completely cleared of the wreckage, with no investigators or security remaining.

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