(CNSNews.com) – The Iranian regime is refusing to share any more evidence with Ukraine relating to the shooting down of a Ukrainian passenger plane last month, following the leak of an audio indicating that regime leaders likely lied when they said they did not know the cause of the crash for two days after it occurred.
In the recording, the pilot of an Iranian aircraft in the proximity of Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752 can be heard informing an Iranian air traffic controller that he has seen what appears to be a missile and an explosion.
Flight PS752, a scheduled service to Kyiv, crashed shortly after takeoff from Tehran on January 8 after Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) personnel fired one or more surface-to-air missiles at it, allegedly mistaking it for a hostile target. All 176 people onboard were killed.
For two days after the crash the regime feigned ignorance about the cause, before publicly admitting the Boeing 737 had been shot down, after allegedly being mistaken for a hostile target.
(The IRGC at the time was supposedly expecting some kind of U.S. retaliation, as just hours earlier it had fired ballistic missiles at Iraqi bases hosting U.S. troops. That came in response to the U.S. airstrike that killed Qods Force commander Qassem Soleimani on January 3.)
The audio clip – indicating that authorities would have known almost immediately that a missile was responsible – was leaked to Ukrainian media, after the Iranians had handed it to Ukraine as part of a joint investigative team probe into the crash.
On Sunday night, Ukraine’s 1+1 TV channel broadcast the audio clip and a transcript. The pilot of an Iranian Aseman Airlines plane, approaching Tehran on a flight from Shiraz, is heard telling the control tower that he has seen “the light of missile” and an explosion.
The air traffic controller is then heard trying to contact the Ukrainian Boeing, without success.
Aseman Airlines’ flight 3768 has a scheduled arrival time in Tehran of 6:25 AM local time. The Ukrainian plane, scheduled to leave Tehran at 5:15 AM local time, took off on the fateful morning at 6:08 AM.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told the channel that the audio recording “shows that the Iranian side knew from the start that our plane was shot down by a missile, they were aware of this at the moment of the shooting.”
Zelensky has been pushing for Iran to allow Ukrainian investigators to decode the Boing’s “black box” flight recorders. He reiterated on Sunday night that doing so would be “very important for us.”
But now Tehran, irked by the leak, says it won’t share any more evidence with Kyiv.
“The technical investigation team of the Ukrainian airline crash, in a strange move, published the secret audio file of the communications of a pilot of a plane that was flying at the same time as the Ukrainian plane,” the Mehr news agency quoted a senior official in Iran’s Civil Aviation Organization (CAO) as saying.
“This action by the Ukrainians led to us not sharing any more evidence with them, said Hassan Rezaifar.
In a speech at an Iranian military university on Monday, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif accused foreign governments of failing to cooperate with Iran’s investigation into the crash, complaining that they have refused to provide Iran with the needed equipment to decode and read the flight recorders.
UIA Flight PS752 crashed early on the morning of Wednesday, January 8. For more than two days, the regime denied claims it was downed by a missile. Regime spokesman Ali Rabiei called claims to that effect “psychological warfare against Iran”
On Thursday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters, “We have intelligence from multiple sources, including our allies and our own intelligence. The evidence indicates the plane was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile.” Dozens of Canadians were among the dead.
On Saturday, the regime acknowledged a missile had brought down the plane, and Zarif that day tweeted, “Human error at time of crisis caused by U.S. adventurism led to disaster.”
Several days later Zarif spoke about the crash, during a visit to India.
Speaking at a geopolitics forum in New Delhi, he said that in past similar incidents – he did not give examples – it had taken much longer than several days for the reasons to be disclosed.
“Our military were brave enough to claim responsibility early on,” he said. “But [Iranian] people are angry, even with those two days. That is the expectation that people have with their government, that the government should not, uh – should have disclosed the information.”
“Of course, I as the foreign minister, and the president [Hassan Rouhani], we didn’t know until Friday afternoon,” Zarif said. “And we made sure that people knew, either Friday night or early Saturday morning.”
Iran’s air-traffic control system is overseen by the CAO, which falls under the transportation and roads ministry, answerable to Rouhani.
After the IRGC admission, the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council denied that the regime had tried to cover up the cause of the crash.
“The announcement of the real cause of the Ukrainian plane crash took some time due to the necessity of examining all the possible theories, including possible enemy actions in jamming, hacking of systems, infiltration, and other related factors,” Iran’s Press TV quoted Ali Shamkhani as saying.
“Nearly a month later the regime continues to stall and lie, and refuses to hand over the plane’s black boxes to relevant authorities in a bid to prevent the disclosure of the truth about this major crime,” the exiled National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) said Monday in response to news of the leaked audio recording.