Supreme Leader calls for measures to prevent similar accidents in the future
From Sharif Paget in Atlanta
Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, urged Iran’s Armed Forces to investigate the “possible shortcomings” that led to the downing of a Ukrainian passenger plane on Wednesday.
“I ask the responsible authorities to take necessary measures to prevent similar accidents in the future,” Khamenei said in the statement released Saturday.
Khamenei also expressed his condolences to the families of the Ukrainian crash victims.
“I should first again give mydeep sympathy and hearty condolences to the families of the victims of this disaster and ask God forpatience and rewards and spiritual relief for them,” he said. 1 hr 19 min ago
When did Iran’s leaders learn of “human error?”
From Sharif Paget in Atlanta
Both Iran’s Supreme Leader and President were informed on Friday about the cause of the downing of a Ukrainian airliner, after top military commanders concluded human error was the cause, according to semi-official state outlet Fars News Agency.
Fars reported that after being informed of the error in the country’s air defense system, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei issued an urgent order to convene a National Security Council meeting to investigate the matter.
Soon after the meeting concluded, he stressed the results of the investigation become public as soon as possible, Fars reported. It was then decided that Iran’s Armed Forces and President Hassan Rouhani draft statements to be released.
Iran’s Armed Forces and the President released separate statements Saturday morning indicating that human error caused the crash of the Ukrainian airliner.1 hr 33 min ago
Black box recordings of Ukrainian airliner will be downloaded in France
From CNN’s Radina Gigova and Sharif Paget in Atlanta
The black box recordings of the downed Ukrainian airliner will be downloaded in France, the head of Iran’s Civil Aviation Organization’s Accident Investigation board said on Saturday, according to state media.
Although Iran made use of all its facilities to examine the content of the black box inside the country, the content will be sent to France so that any possible damage to the data would be avoided, Hassan Rezaeifar told state news agency IRNA.
Rezaeifar said Iran asked Canada, France and the US to bring their software and hardware equipment to Tehran to download the data of the black box of the Ukrainian plane, but they did not accept Iran’s proposal, according to IRNA.
Then, Iran asked Ukraine, Sweden, Britain, Canada, and the US to send the black box to an impartial laboratory — and France was the only one all five countries agreed on, he said.
The decision to send the black box over to France was made before Saturday’s statement from the General Staff of Iran’s Armed Forces, which admitted to downing the Ukrainian airliner, according to IRNA.
No details were provided as to when Iran will send the black box over.1 hr 35 min ago
US and Iran remain on a “collision course” says analyst
While tensions between the US and Iran have deescalated in recent days, Middle East political analyst Fawaz Gerges told CNN that the countries “remain on a collision course.”
“I see it now really changing from a direct confrontation between Iran and the United States, into a war of attrition,” said the author of “Making the Arab World.”
“Iran and its allies will likely target American interests in the Middle East,” he added.
“My overall take is that America’s military footprint in Iraq has become untenable. You are going to see a phasing out of American military presence in Iraq in the next few weeks.” Gerges added that the move would likely happen, “even though the Trump administration is burying its head in the sand, and denying and opposing and refusing to basically accept the Iraqi request to begin the process of pulling American forces in Iraq.”
Gerges predicted that over the coming weeks, America would bring home most of its 5,000 soldiers in Iraq.
Meanwhile a contingent of American forces and international coalition will “likely remain in the country for the sole purpose of the fight against ISIS,” he added.