Earlier this week, President Donald Trump speculated that “somebody could have made a mistake,” and he was right. Iran just broke down and admitted it. On Saturday, Iran released several official statements confessing that the Revolutionary Guards shot down Ukrainian Airlines Flight 752, killing all 176 aboard.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced, “the Islamic Republic of Iran deeply regrets this disastrous mistake. My thoughts and prayers go to all the mourning families.” Senior Revolutionary Guard commander Amirali Hajizadeh accepted full responsibility, stating, “I wished I could die,” when he learned of the incident.
Iran’s Foreign Minister is still trying to blame it on America. “Human error at time of crisis caused by U.S. adventurism led to disaster,” Mohammad Javad Zarif wrote on Twitter.
For days, there has been speculation that the airliner was shot down by a missile, but Tehran swore up and down that such “false” accusations were “psychological warfare.” They planned to continue the cover-up by sitting on the black boxes and doing an in-house investigation. On Thursday, Iran promised to download the information from voice and flight data recorders, warning it would take a while, “the process could take one to two months,” they hedged.
Aviation experts were quick to point out that growing scrutiny was making it impossible to hide the tell-tale signs of a missile strike. The fuselage would clearly show what really happened.
“There’s nothing you can do to cover it up or hide it,” air safety expert Anthony Brickhouse explains. The former National Transportation Safety Board investigator says simply, “evidence is evidence.” Even Iranians aren’t buying it. “Unintentionally? What does it mean? They concealed this huge tragic news for days just to mourn for Soleimani. Shame on you,” commented Reza Ghadyani. “No one will assume responsibility for such a big lie once it is known that the claim had been fraudulent,” Ali Rabiei a government spokesman adds.
Once they realized there was no way they could cover up what they did, the Ayatollah decided to ‘fess up. It wasn’t one missile but two. It’s a good thing they did, because the United States has military satellites that detect infrared emissions from heat.
The data shows “the plane airborne for two minutes after departing Tehran when heat signatures of two surface-to-air missiles were detected,” one official told reporters. It also showed the plane on fire as it fell. A U.S. official reported to have seen the intelligence confirms “the aircraft was downed by two Russian-made SA-15 surface-to-air missiles. The US saw Iranian radar signals lock onto the jetliner before it was shot down.”
After they launched a massive missile strike against U.S. bases in Iraq, Iranian generals were on hair trigger alert for American retaliation. An official Iranian military statement declared the tragedy was a “human error and unintentional.” Oops.
The plane was mistaken for a “hostile target,” because it turned toward a “sensitive” Revolutionary Guard base. Ukraine pushed back saying the plane “was in a normal flight corridor.” They further assert that their radar showed planes in the air near strategic sites which made them nervous, leading to “further alertness” in air defenses.
“The aircraft came close to a sensitive IRGC military center at an altitude and flight condition that resembled hostile targeting. Under these circumstances, the aircraft was unintentionally hit, which unfortunately resulted in death of the many Iranian and foreign nationals,” the official statement reads.
Most of the victims were Iranians and their angry countrymen took to twitter demanding to know why the plane was allowed to take off in the first place. “Why were any civilian airlines flying out of Tehran airport in those conditions?” Shiva Balaghi wants to know. “They were so careful not to kill any American in their revenge for Soleimani. But they did not close the airport? This shows how much this regime cares for Iranians,” Mira Sedaghati scolds.
Aviation experts back that up. Iran and the airline will both need to explain why the plane was allowed to depart since it’s “up to a country to close its airspace when there is a security risk.” Most other airlines were avoiding Iranian airspace already.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy will have a telephone meeting with Iranian President Rouhani on Saturday. He is expected to demand Iran provide a “full admission of guilt.” He also wants them to make it right. “We expect that Iran assures its readiness to have a full and open investigation” Not only does he want to bring those responsible to justice, he wants “return of the bodies” and financial compensation, a Facebook statement notes.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued a statement saying he would work “to ensure a complete and thorough investigation.” The crash killed 57 Canadians. “Our focus remains closure, accountability, transparency, and justice for the families and loved ones of the victims. This is a national tragedy, and all Canadians are mourning together,” he said.