Iran dismisses CBC story on recording of comments on Ukrainian flight

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman dismissed as “untrue” a story by CBC News claiming that it has obtained a recording of comments from Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif about a Ukrainian jetliner that crashed near Tehran in January 2020.

In a statement on Wednesday, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh said the claims raised in a recent CBC story are “untrue and invalid”, as many comments attributed to Foreign Minister Zarif are basically inconsistent with his language.

“The claim that such recording exists is untrue,” Khatibzadeh added, referring to a Tuesday report by CBC News that the Canadian government and security agencies are reviewing an audio recording in which a man -purported to be the foreign minister of Iran- discusses possibilities surrounding the crash of the doomed Ukrainian plane.

The story by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation said the individual is heard saying on the recording that there are a “thousand possibilities” to explain the downing of the jetliner, including a deliberate attack involving two or three “infiltrators”, a scenario he said was “not at all unlikely.”

In the Wednesday’s statement, Khatibzadeh said Foreign Minister Zarif has stressed the need to consider all possibilities and conditions in his official meetings and conversations following the Ukrainian plane crash, including with his Canadian counterpart.

“The possibility of outside electronic intervention or the presence of infiltrating elements could have been also among such probabilities. Such viewpoint was not confined to him (Zarif), and, as the official comments –including from the Parliament’s National Security Commission- demonstrate, the country’s (Iran’s) security organizations have considered all of these possibilities and have ultimately concluded that a catastrophic human error has caused the catastrophe,” the spokesman noted, adding that the case is being handled by the Iranian Armed Force’s courts.

“Investigation into the aviation incidents is a totally specialized and technical issue, and one cannot impose a conclusion on the public opinion for poisoned political purposes by spreading rumors and politicized activities,” Khatibzadeh added.

He then called on Canada to avoid adding to the pains of the bereaved families of victims with such measures and rumors.

Khatibzadeh emphasized that an aviation incident report is not a journalistic reports based on speculation, guess, arbitrary conclusions, or the demand of a certain country.

“We advise the Canadian government to behave professionally instead of (arousing) futile controversies, and to submit its views in the form of a specialized report of the incident, if any,” he added.

He finally reiterated that Iran honors the international commitments and respects the rights of families of victims, the majority of whom were Iranian nationals, and is fulfilling its international undertakings and legal duties step by step in accordance with the domestic and international regulations.

A Kiev-bound UIA Boeing 737 crashed shortly after taking off from Tehran on January 8, 2020, killing all 176 people on board, mostly Iranian and Canadian citizens.

Iran said the plane was hit by an anti-aircraft missile due to human error.

The Iranian administration has agreed to pay the families of every victim $150,000 in compensation.