Iran uses bulldozers at crash site of Ukrainian airliner it denies shooting down
Jan. 10, 2020
Bulldozers have been spotted clearing debris at the spot just outside Tehran where a passenger plane crashed on Wednesday killing all 176 people on board.
It comes after US officials, Boris Johnson and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said it is highly likely an Iranian missile shot down the jet just minutes after take-off.
Fears are mounting that the bulldozers could be used to destroy or cover-up crucial evidence in the investigation.
Iranian has repeatedly denied shooting the Boeing 737 down, initially suggesting an engine fire could have caused the plane to lose control.
In a statement published yesterday, Johnson accepted the use of a missile may have been ‘unintentional’ as he called for a ‘full, transparent investigation’.
Four US officials who asked to remain anonymous said the passing plane could have been mistaken as a threat.
When asked about video footage of bulldozers obtained by American TV, Iran’s ambassador to the UK Hamid Baeidinejad dismissed the claims as ‘absurd’.
He told Sky News: ‘Are we in fact relying on the reporters to have judgement about a very technical issue?”
‘Plane accidents are a very technical issue. I cannot judge. You cannot judge. Reporters on the ground cannot judge.
‘Nobody can judge. A foreign minister or a prime minister cannot judge on the issue. The experts are the people who can go and find the black box and the hard evidence on the ground.’
He said Iran was ‘confident’ that no missile had been launched from the area at the time of the crash.
A video verified by the New York Times is thought to show the moment an Iranian surface to air missile was launched into the air before hitting Ukrainian International Airlines Flight 752.
Investigative journalists at Bellingcat geolocated the video to a residential area in Parand, a suburb to the west of Imam Khomeini International Airport, from which the plane took off.
So far Iranian authorities have refused to hand over the black box to either Boeing or the US insisting it will lead the probe itself.h.
The Islamic Republic has also claimed the box had been damaged and that part of its memory had been lost.
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