Yet another twist in the ongoing negotiations around the crash of the Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752: days after saying they were disposed to compensate the relatives of the victims and the airline, the Iranian authorities turned down a proposal from the Ukrainian foreign ministry to initiate the negotiations.

Iran not ready to talk about compensations

On January 8, 2020, Ukrainian International Airlines Boeing 737 crashed shortly after take off from Tehran International Airport, Iran, killing the 176 people on board. The aircraft had been shot down by two missiles fired by the Iranian military.

In late June 2020, local media reported that Iran was ready to solve legal issues regarding the compensation for victims’ relatives, as well as to Ukraine International Airlines for the loss of aircraft. 

However, on July 7, 2020, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said that Iran had turned down an offer to start the discussions. “We received a communication from Tehran that the Iranian side is not ready to accept Kyiv's offer of talks," Deputy Foreign Minister Yevhen Yenin told the BBC News Ukraine.

Asked if the Ministry could consider taking the case to the International Court of Justice, Yenin said the diplomatic way was still preferred. “We are ready for a constructive and as fast as possible negotiation process with the Iranian side”, he explained. “This is what we rely on at this stage and no more.”

Six months of diplomatic stalling

After a few days of denial, the Iranian authorities eventually admitted on January 11, 2020, that the aircraft was shot down. An operator of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), stationed in Bid Kaneh, allegedly mistook the commercial flight for a cruise missile and fired two missiles from a Tor-M1 surface-to-air system.

Since the responsibility of the Revolutionary Guards was proven, the discussions between Iran and Ukraine have been tedious to say the least. 

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After three days of denial, the Iranian authorities eventually admitted that the crash of the flight PS752 was due to a mistake from the country’s military. Their responsibility in the death of 176 people, including 82 Iranians, sparked a wave of protests in Tehran.
 

Upon recovering the two flight recorders, the Civil Aviation Organization of Iran (CAO) said it would not hand them to the United States and would extract the data independently instead. 

However, after a request to receive the necessary technologies and technical assistance from foreign investigators was denied, Hassan Rezaeifar, the head of the Iranian investigation team, eventually told the news agency IRNA that the black boxes would be sent to Ukraine and that the data would be extracted with the assistance of specialists from the French Bureau of Enquiry and Analysis for Civil Aviation Safety (BEA). 

In February 2020, a conversation between the control tower of Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport (IKA) and the captain of the Aseman Airlines Flight EP3768, moments after the PS752 took off, was released in the Ukrainian media. The flight coming to Tehran from Shiraz was on approach to land when the captain witnessed what seemed like a missile launch. Volodymyr Zelensky, President of Ukraine, said that the record proved the Iranian government was perfectly aware of the exact unfolding of the events but preferred to hide the truth. 

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Iran halted its cooperation with Ukraine after the leak of conversation recording between an air traffic controller of Tehran airport and an Iranian pilot. The pilot was witnessing the missile launch that downed the Ukrainian flight PS752 and killed 176 people on January 8, 2020.
 

Iranian authorities, while confirming the authenticity of the recording, criticized their Ukrainian counterparts for sharing the information with the public. They attributed the delay in admitting their responsibility to the reluctance of the Armed forces to report the information. As a consequence of what they considered as a leak, they halted their cooperation with Ukraine.

On March 11, 2020, the discussions resumed and Iran eventually agreed to release the flight recorders. But to this day, the data recorders are still the hands of the CAO. Latest information indicates they could be sent to the BEA around July 20, 2020. The data extraction should take five days.

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Iran agreed to send the black boxes of the downed Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737-800 to Ukraine.