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Ministers say Tehran won’t hand over ‘damaged’ black box of downed Ukrainian plane

Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 crash wreckage. (Mehr News Agency/Released)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

The black box of a Ukrainian passenger airliner shot down by Iranian forces in Tehran in January is damaged and Iran will not hand it over to another country, despite pressure for access, state media quoted top Iranian ministers as saying on February 19.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said last week that he had “impressed upon” Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif that a complete and independent investigation into the shooting down of the airliner had to be carried out.

Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752 was brought down by Iranian air defenses after it took off from Tehran on January 8, killing everyone on board. Iran says the shoot-down was a mistake. The 176 victims included 82 Iranian citizens and 63 Canadians, many of them of Iranian origin.

The crash occurred with Iran’s air-defense forces on high alert following an Iranian ballistic-missile attack a few hours earlier against U.S. forces in Iraq. The strikes came days after Iran’s most prominent military commander, Qasem Soleimani, was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Baghdad.

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“We have a right to read the black box ourselves. We have a right to be present at any examination of the black box,” Zarif said.

“If we are supposed to give the black box to others for them to read it in our place then this is something we will definitely not do,” he said.

However, Iran is in discussions with other countries, particularly Ukraine, about the investigation, Zarif said.

Defense Minister Amir Hatami said the flight data recording box had “sustained noticeable damage and the defense industry has been requested to help in reconstructing (it).”

“The reconstruction of the black box is supposed to take place first and then the reading,” Hatami said.