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  • Debris of a plane belonging to Ukraine International Airlines, that crashed after taking off from Iran's Imam Khomeini airport, is seen on the outskirts of Tehran, Iran January 8, 2020

    Debris of a plane belonging to Ukraine International Airlines, that crashed after taking off from Iran's Imam Khomeini airport, is seen on the outskirts of Tehran, Iran January 8, 2020 | Photo: Reuters

Published 9 January 2020
Opinion

The Iranian official said that "Iran and Ukraine will be able to read the information of the black box," adding that Iran was even willing to send it to France.

The head of Iran’s of Civil Aviation Organization on Thursday denied “illogical rumors” that a Ukrainian airliner that crashed near Tehran, killing all 176 people aboard, had been hit by a missile, the semi-official news agency ISNA reported.

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“Scientifically, it is impossible that a missile hit the Ukrainian plane, and such rumors are illogical,” ISNA quoted Ali Abedzadeh as saying, adding that "dozens of Iranian and foreign planes were flying in a safe space."

He denied that Teheran refused to send the black box to Boeing, and highlighted that it could be sent to France if required.

"All these reports are a psychological warfare against Iran ... all those countries whose citizens were aboard the plane can send representatives and we urge Boeing to send its representative to join the process of investigating the black box," government spokesman Ali Rabiei said in a statement.

An initial report issued by Iran's civil aviation organization on Thursday said the 3-year-old airliner, which had its last scheduled maintenance on Monday, encountered a technical problem shortly after takeoff and started to head toward a nearby airport before it crashed.

Speaking to reporters at the White House, U.S. President Donald Trump said he did not believe the crash of the airliner was due to a mechanical issue.

"It's a tragic thing. But somebody could have made a mistake - on the other side," Trump said.

Canada's prime minister Justin Trudeau also said on Thursday that the plane had most likely been brought down accidentally by Iranian air defenses.

Ukraine outlined four potential scenarios to explain the crash, including a missile strike and terrorism.

Investigations into airliner crashes require regulators, experts and companies across several international jurisdictions to work together. It can take months to fully determine the cause and issuing an initial report within 24 hours is rare.

The Ukrainian airliner took off at 6:12 a.m. and was given permission to climb to 26,000 feet 7,925 meters, Iran's report said. It crashed six minutes later near the town of Sabashahr.

There was no radio communication from the pilot and the aircraft disappeared from radar at 2,440 meters, the report said.

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada said it had been invited by Iran to the accident site and was making travel arrangements.

Iran has formally invited the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to take part in its investigation and the agency has agreed to assign an investigator, an Iranian official told Reuters.

The NTSB said it had designated an accredited representative to the investigation. "The NTSB continues to monitor the situation surrounding the crash and evaluate its level of participation in the investigation," it said in a statement.

Boeing Co said it would support the NTSB in the investigation. The company is still reeling from two deadly crashes of 737 MAX planes in five months that led to the plane's grounding in March 2019. The 737-800 that crashed was built in 2016 and is the prior generation of the 737 before the MAX. Boeing has built about 5,000 of those planes, which have a good safety record.

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