An audio recording released by Ukrainian media of Iranian air traffic controllers speaking with an Iranian plane shows officials were aware a missile was fired at a civilian airliner shot down near Tehran on January 8.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky confirmed the recording's authenticity in a report aired by Ukraine's Channel One and said Iranian officials had access to this recording from the beginning so it is proof that they knew from the start the plane was shot down by a missile. "They were aware of this at the moment of the shooting,” he said and repeated a demand that Iran should sent the flight recorders to Ukraine for a full and proper investigation.
An official of Iran's Civil Aviation Organization on Monday said the recording of an Iranian air traffic control communication released by a Ukrainian news agency was "included with the documents provided to the joint committee with Ukraine".
The Head of the Air Accidents of Civil Aviation Organization of Iran, Hassan Rezaifar, however, did not challenge the authenticity of the recording.
The recording can be seen as proof Iranian authorities knew all along that the plane was shut down by Iranian missiles.
According to UNIAN, a Ukrainian news agency which published a transcript of the tower communication on Sunday the recorded communication was between the captain of a civilian Iranian plane, Aseman, that was trying to land and a dispatcher of the air traffic control tower of Tehran's Imam Khomeini Airport.
In the recording, the dispatcher addresses the Ukrainian pilot in English and gives him instructions, then talks to the pilot of Iran's Aseman 3768 flight in Persian. The Iranian captain asks if the flight area is "active", meaning missile activity happening, the response of the dispatcher is garbled and inaudible. The Iranian pilot then says he can see "some lights, they look like missiles, is something happening?".
The dispatcher asks the captain of the 3768 about how far the moving lights are and if they are moving toward the city (Tehran) to which the pilot of 3768 gives a negative answer. The dispatcher replies that they had no report of "[missile] activity" and tries to contact the Ukrainian flight nine times. There is no response from the Ukrainian flight.
At the end of the communication, the Iranian pilot says "There was an explosion, we saw a huge light. I don't know what it was. Is all normal for us?" and the dispatcher replies: "Yes, I don't think there will be a problem for you". "Inshallah," the Iranian captain replies at the end of the communication with an anxious tone.
So far the only Iranian official who has commented on the recording is Rezaifar who told Mehr News Agency Iran will no longer provide any evidence to Ukraine because of the publication of the file of the air control communication. He added that the Ukrainian team has left Iran.
"According to domestic and international regulations communications between pilots and towers are among the country's classified documents and no one and no other country can make them public without prior permission from the country to which the communication belongs," Mehr News Agency said in its report.