After maintaining for days that there was no evidence that one of its missiles had struck a Boeing 737-800 minutes after it took off from Tehran on Wednesday with 176 people on board, Iran admitted early on Saturday that its military had accidentally shot down the passenger jet.
The military blamed human error. In a statement, it said the plane had taken a sharp, unexpected turn that brought it near a sensitive military base.
In post on Twitter, Iran’s foreign minister, Mohamad Javad Zarif, apologized but appeared to blame American “adventurism” for the tragedy, writing: “Human error at time of crisis caused by US adventurism led to disaster.”
President Hassan Rouhani said on Twitter that Iran “deeply regrets this disastrous mistake.” He offered condolences to the victims’ families and said investigations were underway. The military said the person responsible would face legal consequences.
President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, in his first reaction to Iran’s announcement, said Kyiv would “insist on a full admission of guilt” by Tehran.
“We expect Iran to assure its readiness for a full and open investigation, to bring those responsible to justice, to return the bodies of the victims, to pay compensation, and to make official apologies through diplomatic channels,” Mr. Zelensky said in a post on his Facebook page. “We hope that the investigation will continue without artificial delays and obstacles.”
Mr. Zelensky came under domestic criticism this week for refusing to publicly blame Iran for the disaster even as the United States, Canada and Britain did. Instead, Mr. Zelensky dispatched a team of specialists to Tehran who sought to work alongside Iranians in studying the crash site. He implored the public to avoid speculating about the cause of the disaster.
Credit: New York Times