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Iran Says Two 'Proximity Missiles' Brought Down Ukrainian Airliner

A rescue worker searches the scene where a Ukrainian plane crashed in Shahedshahr southwest of the capital Tehran, Iran, Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020

Iran’s Civil Aviation Organization has said what caused the crash of a Ukrainian civilian plane on January 8 near Tehran were “two proximity missiles” fired at the aircraft, Fars news agency reported January 20.

When the Ukrainian plane crashed moments after takeoff from Tehran’s international airport at about six in the morning, Iranian officials insisted the cause was a mechanical failure.

The following day an amateur video emerged that showed what seemed to be a missile flying toward the plane and exploding, followed by the crash that killed all 176 people onboard.

Officials still refused to reveal the truth until three days later when the military admitted the airliner was brought down by one missile fired “erroneously” by air-defense crews.

Days later, another video emerged that showed actually two missiles being fired, 30 seconds apart. Now, it appears officials are beginning to admit that it was not just one missile fired by an instant mistake, but the operators of the weapon had 30 more seconds to judge the situation and fired a second missile.

Proximity missiles do not explode by impact on the target but have proximity fuses that make them explode and spread shrapnel near the target. Most anti-aircraft missiles in the world are of the proximity-fused type.

This explains why the Ukrainian plane did not explode in the air and was destroyed when it hit the ground after rapidly losing altitude rather than falling from the sky.

Iran has refused to send the black boxes for expert analysis in a country capable of performing the difficult task. It claims its investigation still continues.