Iran knew missiles downed Ukraine jet

A handout picture provided by the Iranian Red Crescent on January 8, 2020 shows rescue teams working at the scene after a Ukrainian plane carrying 176 passengers crashed near Imam Khomeini airport in the Iranian capital Tehran. (AFP)
Short Url
Updated 05 February 2020

Iran knew missiles downed Ukraine jet

  • Appearing on Ukrainian television, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy confirmed the authenticity of the audio

LONDON: Despite early denials from Tehran, recently released leaked audio shows that officials must have been aware that a Ukrainian jet was hit by Iranian missiles as soon as it had happened.
Released on Sunday on Ukrainian television, the transcript exposes a damning conversation between air traffic control and the pilots of a separate Iranian plane that was in the area at the time and witnessed the events.
The Iranian pilots reported seeing missiles and an explosion, before asking whether the area was safe.
The transcript shows them asking: “Is this an active area? There’s lights like a missile. Is there anything?”
The controller replied: “Nothing has been reported to us. What’s the light like?” The pilot replied: “It’s the light of a missile.”
Minutes later, air traffic control lost all contact with the Ukrainian plane, and the Iranian pilots then reported seeing a “big light from an explosion.”
The Ukraine International Airlines jet was hit by two missiles, killing all 176 people on board.

HIGHLIGHT

Iran is said to have already been preventing Ukraine from probing black box recordings, and this move will make it more difficult for officials to piece together the facts.

In response to the release of the audio, Iran has said it will no longer share evidence with Ukraine to assist the investigation into the downing of the passenger plane.
Tehran initially denied any involvement in the incident, before admitting the plane was shot down by its missiles three days later.
Appearing on Ukrainian television, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy confirmed the authenticity of the audio and said it “proves that the Iranian side knew from the start that our plane had been hit by a missile.”
Iranian officials called the release of the audio a “secret” and a “strange move.”
Iran is said to have already been preventing Ukraine from investigating black box recordings, and this move will make it more difficult for officials to piece together the facts.
The handling of the incident within Iran prompted an outburst of anti-government rallies in cities and universities across the country.


Arab ministers warn of oil spill disasters in the Red Sea

Updated 1 min 39 sec ago

Arab ministers warn of oil spill disasters in the Red Sea

  • The session was held at Saudi Arabia’s request to discuss ways of avoiding a disaster in the Red Sea

Arab ministers have warned of oil spill disasters in the Red Sea and called on international and regional bodies to maintain maritime security in the area.

An Arab League video conference session on Monday brought together ministers responsible for environmental affairs.

The session was held at Saudi Arabia’s request to discuss ways of avoiding a disaster in the Red Sea because of an oil tanker that has been anchored off Yemen’s Ras Isa port since 2015.

The Houthis have prevented international engineers from boarding the vessel to carry out essential repairs and there are fears that the oil it contains will start to seep out as the tanker’s condition deteriorates.

Ambassador Kamal Hassan Ali, assistant secretary-general and head of the economic affairs sector at the Arab League, said that the meeting concluded with foreign ministers being requested to take political action as the oil disaster threat was a matter of politics and security.

The meeting also requested that the league’s general secretariat communicate with the regional and international bodies of countries bordering the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden to preserve the environment and provide technical support in order to submit a report on spillage risks.

Hassan said that finding an appropriate solution to avoid an environmental catastrophe was of major regional and global importance because the scale of such a disaster would threaten marine life, biodiversity, international shipping lines and ports in that location.

He said that the region was facing major challenges that demanded solidarity and unity in all fields, including the environment.

Environmental challenges did not respect borders, he added, and maintaining a healthy environment for the region was a collective issue that required joint effort through plans and strategies adhering to local, regional and international agreements and laws.

Hassan regarded the participation of Arab ministers responsible for environmental affairs in the session as evidence of the importance that regional environmental security held for them, their countries and the region in terms of stability and people’s well-being.

He emphasized the close link between the environment and development, which had led to the emergence of the concept of sustainable development.

The preservation of oceans, seas, marine resources and their sustainable use was one of the most important development goals, he said.