An audio recording of a man identified by sources as Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammad Javad Zarif shows him saying that Ukrainian International Airlines 752, which was hit by two surface-to-air missiles fired by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), killing all 176 people aboard on January 8, 2020, may have been deliberately targeted, rather than an accident, as the Iranian government has claimed.
The individual, identified by sources as Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammad Javad Zarif, is heard saying on the recording that there are a “thousand possibilities” to explain the downing of the jet, including a deliberate attack involving two or three “infiltrators” — a scenario he said was “not at all unlikely,” CBC News reported.
The man sources identified as Zarif stated on the recording, “There are reasons that they will never be revealed. They won’t tell us, nor anyone else, because if they do it will open some doors into the defense systems of the country that will not be in the interest of the nation to publicly say.” He added, “Even if you assume that it was an organized intentional act, they would never tell us or anyone else. There would have been two or three people who did this. And it’s not at all unlikely. They could have been infiltrators. There are a thousand possibilities. Maybe it was really because of the war and it was the radar.”
Ralph Goodale, the prime minister’s special adviser on the Flight PS752 file, said the recording was obtained by Canada’s forensic examination and assessment team last November. He stated, “We’re treating all the evidence and all the potential evidence with the seriousness and the gravity that it deserves. We understand in a very acute way the thirst among the families for the complete, plain, unvarnished truth and that’s what we will do our very best to get for them.”
The United States has designated the IRGC as a terrorist organization. “Despite international obligations stating the black boxes should be analyzed ‘without delay,’ Iran didn’t move ahead with that process until six months after the crash,” CBC noted.
Payam Akhavan, a former U.N. prosecutor, said of the possibility that Zarif thought the shooting-down was intentional, “The fact that he sees that as a real possibility, I think, should make us pause and really consider whether there’s not something far more diabolical at play.”
Ukraine’s Ambassador to Canada Andriy Shevchenko told CBC News, “I think it’s another reason for us not to accept anything smaller than the truth. We do not want to see any scapegoats instead of real wrongdoers. We do not want to see the truth being hidden behind state secrecy. We want to get to the bottom of this. … At this stage, we cannot exclude any possibilities. I think we are still so far away from having a clear picture on what happened … We obviously lack trust in our conversation with Iran. I think we have a feeling that Iran shares as little information as possible. … It’s going to be very difficult to go ahead with the criminal investigation. So I think every piece of information like that is very important.”
The flight was bound from Tehran to Kiev; fifteen children were aboard. It crashed near the village of Khalajabad. Among the passengers were 82 Iranians, 63 Canadians, three from Great Britain, four Afghanis, 10 Swedes, and three Germans, as well as 11 Ukrainians.
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