Iran says it will co-operate with Ukraine on crash investigation despite audio leak
Concerns increase about how long it's taking to analyze plane's black boxes
The head of the Iranian investigation team into the downing of Ukrainian International Airlines Flight 752 says Iran will continue co-operating with Ukraine and other countries despite a leaked audio recording that made headlines around the world.
The audio appeared to show radio communication between the airport tower in Tehran and a pilot of another plane nearby that suggested Iran has known from the beginning that a missile hit Fllight 752. On Monday, an Iranian media agency reported Iran would no longer share evidence with Ukraine because the recording has been aired.
The move raised questions about whether Canada's access to the investigation would be affected, but in an email to CBC News, the Iranian investigator indicated no difficulties ahead.
"Ukraine Investigation Authority (NBAAI ) confirmed [to] us that they had not any responsibility for publishing recent audio file of PS752, so there is not a problem to work with them," Hassan Rezaeifar, the head of Iran's investigation team, wrote.
"We had co-operation with all involved states based on Annex 13 to ICAO convention and continue our co-operation."
The United Nations agency for civilian aviation said Tuesday it was sending a letter to Iran over concerns from Canada that it's not in compliance with the rules.
Canadian Transport Minister Marc Garneau met with the agency and raised concerns about how long it's taking to download and analyze the plane's black boxes. The international convention states it should happen without delay.
The prime minister said this week "it's extremely worrying" that Iran is trying to analyze the flight recorders itself when it lacks the technical resources.
The International Co-ordination Response Group, made up of countries that lost people in the crash, is also urging Iran to swiftly analyze the plane's black boxes — or hand them over to a country that can.
Iran denied shooting down the Ukrainian flight for three days after the crash. Then amid mounting international pressure and evidence, Iran admitted its military "mistakenly" shot down the jet shortly after it took off from Tehran on Jan. 8, just hours after Iran's forces fired missiles at Iraqi bases where U.S. troops were stationed.
That attack was retaliation for an American drone strike that killed a high-ranking Iranian military general in Iraq.
Of the 176 people killed in the plane crash, 57 were Canadian citizens and 29 were permanent residents.