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Iran advises Canada against falling for 'fake' audio recording on Ukraine plane crash

Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh

The Foreign Ministry urges Canada to observe professionalism instead of making wrongful claims about the tragic incident early last year that featured the mistaken downing of a Ukrainian airliner in Iran.

“We ask Canada not to cause the bereaved families’ sorrow to increase by resorting to such measures and whispering campaigns,” Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said on Wednesday.

His statement came after Canada’s CBC News Network alleged it had obtained a recording, in which an individual, whom “sources have identified as Iran's foreign minister,” does not rule out the possibility that the tragedy could have been an “intentional act” or one possibly caused by “infiltrators.”

The network said it was refusing to reveal either “the source of the recording,” “the details of the conversation,” or “the identities of the others involved” for alleged concerns about the involved individuals’ safety. It also said the tape was still being examined by Ottawa and its security apparatus.

Khatibzadeh said, “Instead of raising useless clamor, the Canadian government should behave professionally and present any of its potential theories in the form of a specialized report.”

‘Toxic political goals’

Investigations concerning plane crashes should be fully professional and technical in nature, he said. “One cannot use whispering campaigns and politicization to impose any conclusion [about them] on the public opinion in line with toxic political goals,” the official warned.

The official dismissed the existence of any such recording involving Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. The claims that have been made through the CBC article were “incorrect and lacking in credit,” he said, noting that many of the remarks attributed to the top diplomat actually did not match his discourse.

The spokesman, meanwhile, reminded that many have been advising examination of all possibilities concerning the plane crash incident towards comprehensive investigation of the tragedy.

“This point of view was not exclusive to Mr. Zarif,” Khatibzadeh said, noting how the foreign minister has repeatedly urged adoption of such inclusive attitude towards the incident, including during a conversation and a meeting with his Canadian counterpart.

Reacting to the CBC report, Zarif also noted that he, himself, had advised such an encompassing approach in the aftermath of the tragic incident as had many other officials. The foreign minister likewise dismissed the alleged audio as "fake."

Following flight #PS752 tragedy, I & many others insisted that ALL possibilities—including foreign infiltration or electronic interference—must be investigated (fake audio notwithstanding).

Human error was finally judged as cause.

Iran is committed to full justice for victims.

— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) February 10, 2021

An Iranian air defense unit mistakenly shot down Flight 752 of the Ukrainian International Airlines in January 2020 shortly after the plane took off from Tehran en route to Kiev.

The operator had mistaken the Boeing 737-800 with a cruise missile at a time when the air defense systems were at the highest level of alert following the United States’ earlier assassination of prominent Iranian commander Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani.

'Iran not in default of any obligation'

CBC’s report did not mark the first time Canada, a number of whose citizens, including Iranian-Canadians, were on the plane, was trying to use the involuntary incident to tarnish Iran’s image.

Khatibzadeh, however, noted that Iran has been meeting all of its duties since the plane crash, including preparing a relevant report the Islamic Republic produced around two months ago ahead of schedule.

Tehran has submitted copies of the report to all the concerned countries, the spokesman said, adding it was now their turn to come up with whatever opinion or technical protest and question that they might have about the Iran-devised document.

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