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Ukraine Says Iran Must First Reveal The Full Truth About Downing Of Airliner

Relatives of the flight crew members of the Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737-800 plane shot down by Iran, mourn at a memorial at the Boryspil International airport outside Kyiv, January 8, 2020

Ukraine’s deputy foreign minister has told Radio Farda that Kyiv most of all seeks the truth about the downing of its airliner by Iran and monetary compensation is a secondary goal.

In his new interview with Radio Farda Yevhen Yenin has emphasized that Ukraine's primary goal is obtaining the whole truth behind downing UIA's plane that killed all 176 onboard.

Regretfully admitting that Kyiv has so far failed to persuade Tehran to take a "constructive approach," Yenin said that receiving compensation for the relatives of the victims of the tragedy should be addressed after achieving the truth about the catastrophe.

"Relatives of the victims expect the same. Under no circumstances should we accept money in exchange for covering up the truth. We must first know the truth. Then, based on the details of the events that led to the downing of the Ukrainian plane, we will calculate the compensation to be paid to the relatives of the victims, the airline and the country of Ukraine," Yenin reiterated.

Yevhen Yenin, Deputy foreign minister of Ukraine
Yevhen Yenin, Deputy foreign minister of Ukraine

As Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737-800 took off from Tehran's Imam Khomeini international airport on January 8, heading to Kyiv, two missiles were fired at the plane. The three-year-old Boeing crashed near the capital city, killing all 167 people aboard.

After three days of secrecy and denial, the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps admitted its missiles had brought down the plane but ascribed the incident to "human error."

Iran refused for months to hand over the doomed plane's black boxes for deciphering, while repeatedly admitting that it was not capable of reading the flight recorders. Ultimately, under international pressure, the flight recorders were delivered to France on July 17 to be deciphered.

However, according to Yenin, while decoding the flight recorders is important, it is only one of the three stages of the technical investigation into the plane crash.

"We had three goals in analyzing the black box information. We wanted to prove that the plane was not technically defective, that the pilot and flight crew did not make a mistake, and we also wanted to confirm that the plane crashed following missile strikes. We achieved all three of our goals," Yenin reveals for the first time.

Meanwhile, Yenin admits that it is the Islamic Republic's responsibility to provide the information recorded in the black boxes to the public.

"Based on ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) regulations, Iran, as the country in charge of technical research, must submit a final report about the plane crash within one year, by January 8 next year, and at least a preliminary report if there is not enough time," Yenin notes.

Nonetheless, Tehran has not yet officially issued a report on the disaster.

Has Ukraine decided to find out whether shooting down the UIA's Boeing was deliberate?

"In the process of the investigation, all possibilities are weighed. I do not doubt that the possibility that Iran's action was deliberate is also one of the inspections' axis. But because information about the ongoing criminal investigation is confidential, Ukraine's Foreign Ministry is not aware of its findings," Yenin admits.

"All the wreckage was not found, and only a few seats were discovered by chance. Despite such issues, we hope that the technical and criminal investigations that Iran is responsible for will be conducted following international standards," Yenin says.

Referring to an unknown number of Iranians arrested for protesting the downing of the plane, Yenin offers his sympathy, adding, "There is no political or legal tool to allow us to address this issue. We do not want our negotiations with Iran to be politicized. We seek answers to specific questions and clarify the actions taken, or not taken, regarding the downing of our plane."