Canada criticizes Iran’s “irresponsible” behavior since Reuters shot down the airliner

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: People hold placards with pictures of the victims of the crash of Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752, which was shot down by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard near Tehran, as they gather to take part in a first anniversary march

OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canada on Thursday condemned Tehran’s “irresponsible” behavior since Iranian forces shot down an airliner last year and killed 176 people, including dozens of Canadians, and vowed to continue pressing for answers about what really happened.

Foreign Secretary Marc Garneau’s comments were among the strongest Ottawa has made on the January 2020 disaster.

“The behavior of the Iranian government over the past 15 months has been frankly incomprehensible and we will follow up so that we can be accountable,” Garneau told a committee of lawmakers that looked into what happened.

The Iranian Revolutionary Guards shot down the flight of Ukraine International Airlines shortly after it took off from Tehran airport. Iran said its armed forces were on high alert during a regional confrontation with the United States.

Iran was nervous about possible attacks after launching missiles at Iraqi bases that housed US forces in retaliation for the days of murder facing its most powerful military commander, Qassem Soleimani, in a US missile attack on Baghdad airport.

Garneau complained that Iran, with which Canada does not have diplomatic relations, had been pressuring for months to turn over the flight recorders for independent analysis, saying Tehran still had not explained why the airspace had not been closed at the time be.

In March, the Iranian Civil Aviation Authority blamed the crash on a misaligned radar and a mistake by an air defense company. Iran has indicted 10 officials.

At the time, Ukraine and Canada criticized the report as inadequate. But Garneau went further on Thursday, saying it was “totally unacceptable … they blame some low-level people who run a missile battery and don’t take accountability within the chain of command”.

Canada is preparing its own forensic report on the disaster and will publish it in the coming weeks, he said.

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