Confusion over black boxes in Iran

Iranian forces recently admitted to ‘unintentionally’ shooting down a Ukraine International Airlines flight from Tehran, killing all 179 passengers. But still, few are aware of the exact location of the aircraft’s black box, causing fresh concern. Canadian President Justin Trudeau has promised ‘justice’ for the victim’s families, insisting the black box be sent to France, making the case that Iran lacks the technology to carry out its own thorough investigation. 57 Canadian citizens were on board the doomed flight en route to Dubai. On Monday, Iran made it clear its intentions to send the black box to Ukraine for further analysis, the head of the crash investigation probe told reporters the next day that all recordings would be examined in Iran, and by Iranian officials. According to Hassan Rezaifar, director of accident investigations at Iran’s Civil Aviation Organisation, Iran were seeking “to read the (flight data recorder) in Kiev”. 

Mr Rezaeifar told the official state news agency the next day that “we are trying to read the black boxes here in Iran. Otherwise, our options are Ukraine and France, but no decision has been taken so far to send them to another country.’  The United States has called for ‘swift action’ over the issue, with transportation safety board chair Kathy Fox saying ‘”The issue here is we don’t know if the data has been damaged. I think the Iranians still prefer, if they can, to download the recorders in Iran. Under ICAO they’re supposed to dispatch those recorders under their custody and control to another state who can do it without delay.”

But Iran are in no mood to hand America the black box, instead asking France and U.S aviation authorities to provide the equipment necessary to decode the aircraft’s data recordings, adding both ‘have not given a positive response to sending the equipment.” Iran has also refused to hand over the black box to the aircraft’s American manufacturer, Boeing, widely regarded in the west as reversing the norms of accepted investigative practice. “We will not give the black box to the manufacturer and the Americans,” the head of Iran’s Civil Aviation Organisation Ali Abedzadeh told local media. This all comes in the wake of increased tension between U.S and Iran, after Trump administration carried out the killing of Iranian major general, Qasem Soleimani, on January 3. 
Iran’s supreme leader, suggested “a harsh retaliation is waiting”, while Trump threatened to hit 52 Iranian sites “very hard” if Tehran attacked US citizens or assets. In the context of hostile relations between Iran and its western adversaries, no one could expect a quick fix. “The eyes of the international community are on Iran today”, Canada’s foreign minister, François-Philippe Champagne, told a news conference in London recently. “We are here to pursue closure, accountability, transparency and justice.”


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Sam Gordon Webb

March 2021
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