Iran's government spokesperson told a news conference in Tehran Monday that President Hassan Rouhani's administration was assured by "relevant authorities" no one shot down a Ukrainian airliner that had crashed near Tehran.
"We were accused of lying and concealing the truth but it really was not like that," Ali Rabiee said and added: "What I said on Thursday night was based on observations about the extensive psychological war waged against the Iranian nation by the United States, and the information available to the administration [assuring us] that the accident was not caused by a missile."
Rabiee suggested that despite inquiries until midnight on Thursday the armed forces had refused to reveal the truth to the administration of President Rouhani.
Rabiee said the President was kept in the dark until Friday afternoon when he called a meeting of the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) which resulted in the Armed Forces General Headquarters accepting the responsibility for the tragedy on Saturday morning by issuing a statement.
Iranian officials have come under strong criticism for three days of denials the plane was brought down by a missile. Thousands of Iranians have gone out to protest what they say is the incompetence leading to the tragedy and also government "deception".
The Cabinet Spokesman also said he welcomed the "honesty and accountability" of the Armed Forces General Headquarters "which will definitely continue to the end with transparency".
"Sadly, the delay and failure in the dissemination of information about the accident in a timely manner inflicted irreparable damages to our social capital", Rabiee said.
He also repeated an argument voiced by other Iranian officials that what happened to the Ukrainian plane was a consequence of the killing of the Qods Force Commander General Qassem Soleimani by the United States and added that what happened should not be used as an "excuse to disparage and belittle the country's armed forces which are the guardians of our lives, property and honor".