PS752 Down, PS752 Down!
Amidst escalating tension between Iran and USA, Ukraine International Airlines (UIA) flight PS752 came crashing down in Iran on January 8, 2020. The Boeing 757-800 that took off from Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport headed to Kiev. After reaching nearly 2000 meters altitude, the plane came crashing down at a distance of 15 kilometers from the airport.
Nearly 176 people on board were killed. People belonging to Iran, Canada, Afghanistan, Sweden, Germany, and Britain were onboard. Rescue teams were sent on the crash site. Iran reported that the flight crashed due to some technical error. Whereas the United States and many other nations argued that it was shot down by Iran.
Crash Stirs Up Tension
UIA plane crash stirred up nations because of its timing. Iran, in retaliation to the murder of General Soleimani, conducted air-strikes on US Bases in Iraq just before the crash. Many speculated that the plane was downed by Iran, but Iran’s Civil Aviation Organization‘s (CIO) first probe suggested that the crash was due to technical error.
Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky had called out an investigation in the matter. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau blamed Iran for orchestrating the plane crash by shooting it down with a missile. However, Iran’s CIO Leader, Ali Abedzadeh, affirmed that ‘no missile hit the aircraft’.
Boeing planes have a history of crashes. Iran denied claims of the US and other nations and said that the accusations were an attempt to protect the company. Road and Transport Ministry of Iran also stated that the plane crash was because the engine of the plane caught fire. On top of that, some investigators said that evidence from the site might have been wiped by Iran. Iran had bluntly denied the accusations.
Misfire, Says Iran
3 days after the crash, the Armed Forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran came forward and said that it had mistakenly shot down the Ukranian Airplane. It said that the plane had gradually started moving towards a critical area of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). IRGC Aerospace Commander, Amir Ali Hajizadeh said that the “force took full responsibility” of the crash. Given the jittering situation after bombing US sites in Iraq, Iran military thought that this plane, flying at an altitude, and in an enemy-like posture, to be a ‘hostile target‘. Then the plane was attacked with a missile. Iran’s military has said that it will work on improving its systems so as to prevent any such error. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said, “Armed Forces’ internal investigation has concluded that regrettably missiles fired due to human error caused the horrific crash of the Ukrainian plane & death of 176 innocent people. Investigations continue to identify & prosecute this great tragedy & unforgivable mistake.”
Iran’s probe in the crash has led to arrests of a few officials and the person who was filming the missile strike. Iran has neither disclosed the charges against the arrested nor the number and names of the arrested. Iran might be paying a total of $150 mn in damages.
A video of the missile strike, first surfaced by American news agencies, suggests that two missiles had hit the airplane. On the other hand, protests are sprouting in Iran. Around 30 protestors were detained by Iranian authorities. The protestors are demanding accountability from Iran’s leaders. They also raised slogans against Iran’s top leaders.
Global tension due to US-Iran retaliation has spiked. With tragedies like these engulfing Iran in fire from the inside and US targeting Iran’s stealth from the outside, nations are ambivalent about global peace.