Under pressure, Iran admitted to shooting down the Ukrainian airliner, drawing strong condemnation at home and abroad and sparking anti-government demonstrations in Tehran and several other major cities.
Iran’s military acknowledged in a statement early Tuesday that it had accidentally shot down a Ukrainian passenger jet, blaming human error for the plane’s sudden turn toward a sensitive military base.
A military statement said the Iranian military was on “high alert” at the time of the incident because of a dispute with the United States, and that the plane had been mistaken for an “enemy target” when it approached a “sensitive” military area. “In this case, the plane was shot down by human error and in an unintentional manner.”
The military statement also apologized for the accident and said it would upgrade systems to prevent such incidents from happening again.
Ukraine’s national airline said Iranian authorities should close Tehran’s airport to ensure security at a time of such regional tension. On the day of the accident, however, the airline received no safety risk warnings.
The statement reverses Iran’s previous claim that a technical fault caused the plane to crash, killing all 176 people on board, including 57 Canadians, 82 Iranians, and 11 Ukrainians.
On January 9, the United States, Canada, and other countries claimed that the accident was caused by a missile launch by Iran, which denied it. Several us media reports suggested that Iran had finally admitted its mistake under pressure from several western countries.
Iranian President Hassan Rowhani said Tuesday on social media that Iran regrets the shooting down of a Ukrainian passenger plane, calling it an “inexcusable mistake.” Mr. Rouhani also said Iran would continue to investigate and hold accountable. Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, said the “risky action” by the United States was responsible for the “human error” in Iran.
On the night of January 11, anti-government protests broke out in Tehran after Iran admitted to “human error” in shooting down a Ukrainian airliner. Thousands of people rallied to demand the ouster of Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, CNN reported.
Meanwhile, the Iranian media has issued a rare call for officials involved to resign. “Apologies and resignations,” read a banner headline in Iran’s moderate Etemad daily newspaper on Sunday, saying “the people demand” the resignation of those who mishandled the crisis.
In response, US President Donald Trump expressed his support for the Iranian protesters and warned the Iranian government not to “massacre peaceful demonstrators” again.
“To the brave but long-suffering people of Iran, I have been on your side since I took office, and my government will continue to support you,” Trump said in a twitter message in both English and Persian
Hold you. We are watching the protests closely and are encouraged by your courage.” He also warned the Iranian government against further massacres of peaceful protesters or shutting down the Internet. The world is watching.
In addition, U.S. secretary of state Mike Pompeo tweeted, “the voice of the Iranian people is clear. They are fed up with the regime’s lies, corruption and incompetence, and the brutality of Iran’s revolutionary guard under Mr. Khamenei’s kleptocratic rule. We stand with the Iranian people, and the Iranian people deserve a better future.
Canadian prime minister Donald Trudeau said Tuesday that he was “outraged” by Iran’s shooting down of a Ukrainian airliner and that Iran must take full responsibility. He has spoken to Iran’s President, Hassan rouhani, demanding a full and complete investigation, allowing Canada to participate and expecting full cooperation.
The British government said Iran’s recognition of the downing of the Ukrainian airliner was an important first step, but that a “full, independent and transparent investigation” into the incident was needed. British prime minister Boris Johnson urged regional tensions to be eased as soon as possible.
The latest unrest has put increasing pressure on Iran’s authorities as they struggle to shore up an economy crippled by tough U.S. sanctions.
The United States on January 10 announced additional sanctions against Iran, including several of the country’s top steel producers and eight senior Iranian officials. “With these measures, we will cut off the flow of billions of dollars in support of the Iranian regime,” us Treasury secretary Steven mnuchin said, according to AFP.
The United States and Iran are moving away from the brink of all-out war, but that doesn’t mean the hostilities between the two countries are over. For Iran, the new us sanctions are further confirmation of Mr. Trump’s “uncompromising and aggressive” position.
The direct military confrontation between Iran and the United States is over, but Iran’s leaders are pushing a long-term political agenda to confront the United States, far from ending the crisis, CNN reported.
However, some analysts believe that events in the Middle East, as long as there is no large-scale military conflict, the impact on the market should be short-lived.