Published: January 12, 2020
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Iran’s admission they blew up a Ukrainian jet with 63 Canadians on board is a good start but he still wants more answers.
Ukranian Airlines Flight 752, a Boeing 737-800 carrying 176 passengers, went down minutes after taking off from Tehran on the morning of January 8 local time.
Thursday morning, officials from the U.S. and Canada released statements that, per intelligence, they were confident an Iranian surface to air missile had downed the plane. By Thursday evening, Iran officials had asked Canada to share that intelligence.
Friday evening, officials from Iran responded.
“Armed Forces’ internal investigation has concluded that regrettably missiles fired due to human error caused the horrific crash of the Ukrainian plane and death of 176 innocent people,” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani wrote on Twitter.
The president added investigations would continue to “identify and prosecute” those responsible. Passengers aboard flight 752 were overwhelmingly of Iranian nationality.
There were 63 Canadians on board and 138 passengers in total were to be on a connecting flight to Canada.
The admission was unexpected after Iranian officials spent three days since the crash denying the IRGC could be responsible.
In response to North American officials on Thursday, the head of Iran Civil Avian Organization, Ali Abedzadeh, claimed it was “impossible” and “illogical” that the Ukrainian Airlines flight could have been downed by a missile.
Concerns were further compounded by the Iranian government’s assertion they would not release the black box. Shortly after initial statements, Iran said it would participate in a cooperative investigation with investigators from both Canada and Sweden, as well as Boeing, and stated they would allow Ukraine access to the black box, in Iran.
Trudeau held a press conference Saturday afternoon after speaking with Rouhani.
“We need full clarity on how such a horrific catastrophe could have occured,” Trudeau said.
“I asked that we be fully included in the investigation into the crash. I asked to ensure consular access for Canadian officials to support grieving family members and to work together to continue to de-escalate tensions in the region.”
“President Rouhani’s response was a commitment to collaborate (with Canada) on giving victims closure and de-escalating tensions in the region.”
Trudeau would not directly answer questions regarding whether Iran’s actions were criminal and what response Canada would give in that case.
“We’re seeing Iran allowing Canada to participate in the investigation and we’re looking forward to getting what is needed for the victims of this tragedy,” Trudeau said.
“I think there’s a recognition that there may be individual culpability in this situation but also systemic culpability.”
Protests began in Iran Saturday during a public vigil for the passengers of flight 752, with Iranians demanding Khamenei resign among chants of “Death to the Supreme Leader”.
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