A Boeing 737-800 from Ukraine International Airlines crashed shortly after takeoff in Tehran, Iran, Wednesday, January 8. All 176 passengers were reported dead. Could it be that Iran was responsible for the crash? Western intelligence officials believe that’s what happened – and what little evidence we have so far seems to lead that direction.
An Ill-Fated Flight
The Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752 from Imam Khomeini international airport in Tehran, Iran, bound for Kyiv, Ukraine, never reached its destination. Just a few short minutes after takeoff – and before it could break 8,000 ft – the plane reportedly burst into flames and fell from the sky.
A video made the rounds around the internet allegedly of the crash, showing the plane burning as it fell. Iranian officials claimed the engine had caught fire, causing the pilot to lose control. The Ukrainian embassy in Iran quickly posted a statement on its website ruling out an act of terror, but that has since been redacted. The embassy now says that all information will be provided by an official commission moving forward.
Ukraine’s foreign minister, Vadym Prstaiko, reported that passengers on the flight included 82 Iranians, 63 Canadians, 11 Ukrainians, 10 Swedes, four Afghans, and three Britons. Official reports from Iran are that all passengers were lost and that no chance of finding survivors exists. Oleksiy Danylov, the secretary of Ukraine’s security and defense council, suggests four possible causes of the crash:
- An anti-aircraft missile strike.
- A mid-air collision with a drone or other flying object.
- Engine destruction/explosion due to technical reasons.
- An explosion in the plane caused by a terror attack.
Western intelligence officials suspect the first possibility – specifically, that the plane was shot down accidentally by Iran using a Russian Tor missile.
A Suspect Investigation
Normally in a situation like this, the manufacturer of the plane would be involved in the investigation. However, Iran is refusing to release the planes black box to Boeing or the United States. It might be easy to shrug this off as merely a side effect of the increasing U.S.-Iran hostilities, but it certainly seems suspicious when considered alongside other factors.
A few media outlets quoted Pentagon and other senior U.S. officials and even an Iraqi intelligence official as saying they believe the Ukrainian plane was hit by a Tor missile. Allegedly, various western intelligence sources picked up signals of a missile launch, followed by an explosion. The signature of an Iranian anti-aircraft missile battery being activated shortly before the crash was reported by U.S. officials. The Pentagon has not commented officially, but President Trump doesn’t believe Iran’s story of mechanical failure. “I have my suspicions. It’s a tragic thing when I see that, it’s a tragic thing,” he said. “But somebody could have made a mistake on the other side.”
Images circulating around social media allegedly show remains of a Tor missile near the crash site, and that has done nothing to assuage concerns that the plane was shot down. Iran officially calls the images fake and the reports that their official story is inaccurate “illogical rumours.” But while the images of missile debris can’t be fully vetted, they are believed by outside investigators to be credible.
Iran’s refusal to release the black box reeks of an attempt to cover up a tragic accident – especially when multiple outside intelligence sources point to a missile launch. How did such an accident occur, if, indeed, it did? We might never know. But what we do know is that 176 people never made it home, and investigators from the other countries involved won’t rest until they find out why.
Read more from James Fite.