Ukraine had evidence of rocket attack against UIA plane before Iran's statement – NSDC
Ukraine had evidence of a rocket attack against a Ukraine International Airlines plane before Iran’s statement that the Iranian military shot down the aircraft accidentally, Secretary of the Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council (NSDC) Oleksiy Danilov has told BBC Ukrainian.
“We knew this information even before Iran changed its position. We knew this information before it was made public by our esteemed partners from other countries,” he said.
In particular, according to him, Kyiv received information from Ukrainian experts in Tehran.
“Experts have found evidence that it was a rocket. We are very likely to know the name of this rocket. We know when it was bought by the Iranian authorities, and we know where they bought it,” Danilov said.
According to him, the presence of this evidence in Kyiv, as well as public statements that main theories include a missile attack influenced Iran, and Tehran eventually changed its position.
“We understand why Iran has changed its position. They did not calculate how our expects will act. It was our task before our citizens, before the whole world, because when they say that Ukraine is guilty of those events, we do not like it,” Danilov said.
He said that Ukrainian specialists promptly transferred information to Kyiv immediately upon arrival at the crash site.
“In a very short time, combining all the information flows, we understood what had happened. We couldn’t make it public immediately, we still had to work. Iran is a very complicated country, and we were very worried they could send our specialists back [to Ukraine]. […] I think Iran realized that there was no reason to hide anything, and in any case, we had it [the evidence] already on the Ukrainian side,” he said.
According to Danilov, photos released by the Office of the President of Ukraine on January 11 clearly show the cockpit being hit by a rocket.
“We consider this a fact that has already been proved, and therefore the talks that our pilots had to hold stopped immediately. Unfortunately, they died immediately after the first strike,” Danilov said.
He stated that Ukraine will not stop the investigation into this catastrophe despite the official recognition by Iran of a missile strike, as it will demand punishment for perpetrators.
“We will continue to work. The fact that Iran has made a statement is a political part, but we need to address legal issues. We need to understand how the situation will develop further, as this must all end in the legal plane,” he said.
A Ukraine International Airlines plane (flight PS752), en route from Tehran to Kyiv, crashed shortly after take-off from Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport early on January 8. There were 176 people on board the aircraft. All of them died. The crash killed 11 Ukrainians (two passengers and all nine crew), as well as Iranians, Canadians, Swedes, Afghans, Germans, and Britons.
Iran had claimed that the plane had crashed due to an engine failure. However, early on January 11, Iran stated that it had shot down the Ukrainian passenger plane accidentally. The aircraft took off from the airport and was seen as an enemy target as it came close to an Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps base.