Washington / Tehran / Brussels (dpa) - After the crash of a Ukrainian passenger plane near Tehran, the evidence of an accidental missile bombardment by Iran is increasing as the cause. Governments in Canada and the UK say they have information that indicates an Iranian missile has been launched. According to US media reports, this theory is also being followed in the United States. Officially, the cause of the crash is being investigated further.
The plane, with 176 people on board, crashed on Wednesday shortly after Iran attacked two US-based bases in Iraq. There were no survivors in the crash. Iran now wants to involve experts from the USA, among others, in the investigations. The National Transport Safety Agency in Washington said it is participating in the investigation.
The plane crashed on Wednesday from Tehran to Kiev shortly after takeoff. Iran had rejected speculation about a launch and cited a technical defect as the cause. 63 Canadians were among the victims.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday that his government had information "from multiple sources, from our allies, and its own information". The evidence is "very clear". British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said a "body of information" suggesting an Iranian missile was launched.
The US broadcaster CBS reported that US intelligence agencies received signals from a radar that had been turned on. U.S. satellites had also discovered the launch of two surface-to-air missiles shortly before the aircraft exploded. CNN reported that the theory of an accidental launch by Iran was based on the analysis of satellite, radar and other electronic data that was routinely collected by the U.S. military and intelligence agencies.
Ukraine has already sent its own experts to Iran. The head of the Iranian Aviation Authority, Ali Abedsadeh, announced on Iranian television on Thursday evening that Iran was also involving Boeing experts from the United States, Canada and France in the investigation into the cause of the crash of the Ukrainian passenger plane near Tehran.
The plane's black box should be examined in Iran. If this should not be possible for technical reasons, investigations abroad would also be conceivable. All technical options should be considered to promptly clarify the cause of the crash, Abedsadeh said. He described the assumption that the machine had been hit by an Iranian missile defense system as absurd.
Due to the security situation in the region, Lufthansa had a plane turned around on the way to the Iranian capital Tehran on Thursday. The Lufthansa flight to and from Tehran on Friday was also canceled.
In the conflict between the United States and Iran, the signs of the targeted military strikes initially point to relaxation. The situation in the Persian Gulf escalated after the United States specifically targeted the top Iranian general Ghassem Soleimani in Baghdad at the end of last week. Iran responded on Wednesday night with an - announced - attack on two US-based military bases in Iraq. After that, Trump and Iran's President Hassan Ruhani announced that they would initially want to conduct the conflict at a political level.
Trump again defended the United States' action against Soleimani. At a campaign appearance in Toledo, Ohio, he described Soleimani as a “sadistic mass murderer”. «Soleimani was actively planning new attacks and was very serious about our messages and not just the embassy in Baghdad. But we stopped him, »said Trump. He had previously said in the White House that Soleimani wanted to blow up the US embassy.
Trump's statements went beyond the US government's previous account of the reasons for the attack on Soleimani. The Democrats had raised doubts about the rationale that Soleimani had planned upcoming attacks on US citizens, and also criticized the fact that the US government did not disclose enough information on the matter. Trump accused the Toledo Democrats of giving everything to the media if they were informed.
The US House of Representatives passed a resolution on Thursday to prevent Trump's arbitrary military action against Iran. With a majority in the chamber, the Democrats voted for a decision to force Republican Trump to include Parliament. The advance is likely to be symbolic: The Democrats dominate the House of Representatives, but the Senate the Republicans. A majority for the resolution is not likely to come about there. In any case, it should fail at the latest due to Trump's veto.
The EU foreign ministers will hold a special meeting in Brussels on Friday (3 p.m.) to discuss the hot spots in the Middle East and Libya. Above all, the meeting should emit a signal of unity. The international community had recently tried to use its diplomatic channels in both conflicts. Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas is expected in Germany in Brussels.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg continues to consider the situation on the Persian Gulf to be unpredictable. NATO responded to Trump's request that the military alliance also contribute to Middle East stability and the fight against terrorism. NATO has the potential to do so, said Stoltenberg. "And we are examining what we can do in addition." Trump even went so far as to say on Thursday: "I think NATO should be expanded and we should include the Middle East." Shortly before, however, he had more of such an expansion proposal spoken jokingly and brought a possible new name into play.