Iran released their final report on the Ukraine International Airlines shooting down of their 737, shortly after it departed Tehran Airport.
The incident happened on the 8th of January 2020. A Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737-800 crashed with no survivors, shortly after taking off from Tehran International Airport (OIIE) in Iran. After several days, Iran admitted that its own defence forces had brought down the aircraft. Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards fired two missiles at the Ukraine International Airlines 737, flight PS752. Both missiles hit the jet.
The circumstances surrounding Iran’s shooting down of Ukraine’s 737, included an extremely high level of tension. Just hours earlier, Iranian forces had conducted a missile attack on Al Asad Air Base in Iraq. American military forces use this base. The attack was in retaliation to an earlier US drone attack on a high-ranking Iranian General. Iranian military forces anticipated a possible response from US aircraft, after their missile attack.
Ukraine International PS752’s Departure From Iran
Flight PS752 was running late. Originally the Ukraine International Airlines 737 was to depart Iran’s capital at 05:15. The aircraft took off at 06:12. The delay had to do with the need to offload luggage, because the aircraft was overweight. It is not clear if this delay played a role in the incident. Authorities were coordinating airport operations with the military, including defence forces. Accordingly, ATC informed Iran’s military command of the time that the Ukraine International jet started up its engines.
The report claims that there was a lack of communication between the centralized military command and the air defence operator. On top of this, that particular air defence unit had just relocated. This was part of their procedures, to keep their location secret. However the report claims that upon relocating, they misaligned their radar. This caused the Iranian missile defence operator to misinterpret the position/origin of the Ukraine International 737. The report says:
“Following a tactical relocation, the relevant ADU (air defence unit) failed to adjust the system direction due to human error, causing the operator to observe the target flying west from IKA (i.e. the airport) as a target approaching Tehran from the southwest at a relatively low altitude.”
Reactions To The Report
The first indications are that authorities in both the Ukraine and Canada are unhappy with Iran’s report. They both feel that the report does not provide any more information than what they already knew. And they both suggest that they have questions that Iran’s report isn’t answering. Canada is an interested party because many passengers were Canadian citizens or permanent residents. In a statement, the Canadian ministers of foreign affairs and transport, said:
“The [Iranian] report makes no attempt to answer critical questions about what truly happened. It appears incomplete and has no hard facts or evidence. Our government, along with the Honourable Ralph Goodale, Special Advisor to the Prime Minister on PS752, has repeatedly called for a comprehensive and transparent investigation according to international standards to answer all the critical outstanding questions. We remain deeply concerned about the lack of convincing information and evidence, despite the publication of this investigation report.
“The Government of Canada will soon disclose the results of its own investigations. In the coming days, the Transportation Safety Board will provide its review of Iran’s report, and in the coming weeks, the Forensic Examination and Assessment Team will issue its report.”
A statement from Ukraine’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba, made a similar assessment on Iran’s report:
“The document does not present all the circumstances, does not reveal the root causes of the tragedy or the chain of actions that led to it. This is not a report, it is a collection of manipulations, the goal of which is not to establish the truth, but to whitewash the Islamic Republic of Iran.“
Last December, the government of Iran announced that it would pay $150,000 in compensation for each of the 176 victims of Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752.