Trudeau: Evidence indicates Iranian missile downed Ukraine plane
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Thursday that evidence indicates an Iranian missile downed a Ukrainian airliner on Wednesday and that the strike “may have been unintentional”.
Trudeau said Canadian and allied intelligence supports that cause. He declined to get into the specific intelligence, but said it appeared it was a surface-to-air missile that struck the plane.
“We have intelligence from multiple sources, including our allies and our own intelligence. The evidence indicates that the plane was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile,” Trudeau told reporters in Ottawa. “This may well have been unintentional.”
Earlier, United States officials said it was “highly likely” that an Iranian anti-aircraft missile downed the airliner, killing all 176 people on board. They suggested it could well have been a mistake. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson also said there was a “body of information that the flight was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile”. He added “this may well have been unintentional”.
Iran had earlier dismissed the reports as “illogical rumours”.
“It is impossible that a missile hit the Ukrainian plane,” Iran’s head of civil aviation was quoted by Iran’s INSA news agency as saying.
The Ukraine International Airlines plane bound for the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, crashed minutes after takeoff from the Imam Khomeini International Airport in Tehran on Wednesday amid escalating tensions between the US and Iran. There were 63 Canadians on board.
Iranian investigators released an initial report on Thursday saying that the airliner was on fire and tried turning back but that its crew never made a radio call for help. That report characterised the incident as an accident. In-depth investigations into airline disasters generally take months.
The crash happened hours after Iran launched missile attacks on US-led forces in Iraq. The strikes, Iran said, were in retaliation for the US assassination of top Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani.