Iran says it’s made no decision on sending flight black boxes to Ukraine in apparent U-turn on plans
Hassan Rezaeifar, the Iranian official leading the investigation, made the comments a day after saying they would be sent to Kyiv for analysis.
He was quoted by state-run Irna news agency as saying: “The flight recorders from the Ukrainian Boeing are in Iranian hands and we have no plans to send them out.”
He said Iran was working to recover the data and cabin recordings, and that it may send the flight recorders – commonly known as black boxes – to Ukraine or France.
“But as of yet, we have made no decision,” he said.
The same official was quoted by the semi-official Tasnim news agency on Saturday as saying the recorders would be sent to Ukraine, where French, American and Canadian experts would help analyse them. Iranian officials previously said the black boxes were damaged but usable.
The Revolutionary Guard accidentally shot the plane down shortly after it took off from Tehran on January 8, killing all 176 people on board.
Hours earlier, the guard had launched ballistic missiles at US troops in Iraq in response to the US air strike that killed Iran’s top general in Baghdad.
Officials say lower-level officers mistook the plane for a US cruise missile.
Iranian officials initially said the crash was caused by a technical problem and invited countries that lost citizens to help investigate. Three days later, Iran admitted responsibility after Western leaders said there was strong evidence the plane was hit by a surface-to-air missile.
The victims included 57 Canadian citizens as well as 11 Ukrainians, 17 people from Sweden, four Afghans and four British citizens. Most of those killed were Iranians.
The other five nations have demanded Iran accept full responsibility and pay compensation to the victims’ families.
The plane was a Boeing 737-800 that was designed and built in the US. The plane’s engine was designed by CFM International, a joint company between French group Safran and US group GE Aviation.
Investigators from both countries have been invited to take part in the probe.
(c) Evening Standard