Iran challenges West to prove plane was downed by missile

By Sharon Marris and Andy Hayes, news reporters

Iran has challenged Western leaders to prove that a Ukrainian plane that crashed southwest of Tehran was brought down by an Iranian missile.
Officials in the UK, US, Canada and Australia have said that is the most likely explanation.
In additional to existing intelligence, a video appears to show the moment the aircraft was struck by a missile – thought to be a Russian-made TOR anti-aircraft device.

Iran airs footage of purported black boxes
Western leaders say it appears to have been unintentional, happening hours after Iran launched a series of ballistic missiles at two US bases in Iraq to avenge the killing of top general Qassem Soleimani.
But Iran has denied the suggestion.
“What is obvious for us, and what we can say with certainty, is that no missile hit the plane,” said the head of Iran’s national aviation department, Ali Abedzadeh.
“If they are really sure, they should come and show their findings to the world.”

More from Iran

Tehran has described claims that one of its missiles hit the jet as “psychological warfare against Iran”.
Government spokesman Ali Rabiei also told state TV that “all those countries whose citizens were aboard the plane can send representatives and we urge Boeing to send its representative to join the process of investigating the black box”.

Iran: First video of plane wreckage emerges
Analysis of the flight recorders – due to get underway on Friday – could take more than a month, according to the head of the Iranian investigation team, Hassan Rezaeifar.
Help from international experts could be requested if extracting the information proves difficult, he added.
“We prefer to download the black boxes in Iran. But if we see that we can’t do that because the boxes are damaged, then we will seek help,” said Ali Abedzadeh, head of Iran’s Civil Aviation Organisation.
The French air accident investigation authority said Iran had invited it to join the investigation.
Ukraine’s foreign minister said he and President Volodymyr Zelenskiy met US embassy officials on Friday and obtained “important data” about the crash.
Kiev said its investigators wanted to search the crash site.
The entire investigation could stretch into next year.

Image: Images of a Russian-made missile are circulating online
All 176 people on board were killed when the Ukraine International Airlines jet crashed on Wednesday, minutes after taking off from the Iranian capital of Tehran.Among the dead were 82 Iranians, 63 Canadians and four Britons.
Regarding the alleged shooting down, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said at a news conference: “We have intelligence from multiple sources, including our allies and our own intelligence.
“The evidence indicates that the plane was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile. This may well have been unintentional.”
Similar statements were made by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and US President Donald Trump.
Ukraine’s foreign minister said he and President Volodymyr Zelenskiy met US embassy officials on Friday and obtained “important data” about the crash.

Image: Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737-800 with the registration UR-PSR
UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab called for a “full and transparent investigation” into what caused the crash.
The Foreign Office has updated its travel advice, warning Britons against all travel to Iran as well as travel to, from and within the country.
The warning added: “Tension between Iran and other countries could escalate rapidly” and “anger inside Iran is high” following the killing of Maj Gen Soleimani.
“There is a possibility of an increased threat against Western interests and the security situation could worsen with little warning.”

Trudeau: Iran shot down the plane
In the new footage, a ball of fire can be seen coming from left to right – the missile – and the plane is seen more clearly coming from the opposite direction. A few seconds later an explosion can be heard.
Sky News defence and security correspondent Alistair Bunkall said the video appeared to be authentic after being verified by the New York Times and analysed by investigative journalism website Bellingcat.
He added that western intelligence agencies are “pretty convinced that this aircraft was shot down”.
“What they don’t know is whether it was deliberate or not,” he continued.
“The working assumption at the moment is that it was an accident and the reason for that is that, of the 176 on board, 82 are Iranians.
“So there’s no obvious reason this would be done deliberately…so the feeling was this probably was a tragic accident.”

The Ukrainian passenger plane hits the ground
The video is the latest apparently showing the incident.
In another, the Boeing 737 800 is seen exploding into flames as it tumbles form the sky and crashes into a distant field.
In a third, the plane can be seen on fire for several seconds before exploding mid-air and finally bursting into flames as it comes down.
CCTV footage on a dark lane near the crash site is also believed to have captured the passenger plane hitting the ground.
The screen turns white as it crashes before the surrounding area is engulfed in flames – smoke and debris flying in all directions.

Source : Sky News