Western media and social media circulated a video clip said to show that the Ukrainian plane that crashed in Iran was hit by a missile minutes after takeoff, while the Iranian authorities insisted on excluding this hypothesis.
The US newspaper The New York Times confirmed the validity of the video, and published a report on the accident, saying that the plane was hit by an Iranian missile, but it did not explode completely, but rather tried to return to the airport again, but it exploded and fell.
Other media outlets released that video, including CNN and NBC, and some said they had verified his health.
The footage, filmed from the ground at night, shows a flying plane before its course showing a great flash.
You can watch a great annotated video put together by @JakeGodin of Newsy here, showing the various objects and events of the brief clip: pic.twitter.com/lwRfStVoGP- Bellingcat (@bellingcat) January 9, 2020
The Ukrainian plane crashed on its way from Tehran to Kiev at dawn Wednesday, while Iran was on alert hours after the Iranian Revolutionary Guards fired missiles at American targets in Iraq, in retaliation for the killing of a prominent Iranian military commander, Qassem Soleimani, in a US attack with a drone in Baghdad.
All of the 176 people on board were killed, including more than eighty Iranians, 63 Canadians, a number of Ukrainians, and passengers of other nationalities.
Canada and other Western countries said the plane was shot down by an Iranian missile, possibly in error. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday that information from Canadian intelligence and other sources indicates that the plane was shot down by an Iranian air-to-surface missile.
The German government said on Friday that information and evidence about the possibility of a Ukrainian plane hitting a missile must be taken seriously.
Reuters news agency yesterday quoted a US official as saying - citing data from satellites - that Washington had concluded with a high degree of confidence that Iranian defenses had accidentally shot down the plane. The official indicated that the data showed that the plane was flying for two minutes after leaving Tehran when two thermal fingerprints of two air-to-surface missiles were detected.
Iran excludes the missile hypothesis
On the other hand, the head of the Iranian Civil Aviation Organization confirmed that the Ukrainian plane was not hit by a missile, calling for not to anticipate the results of the plane's black box analysis.
Ali Abedzadeh said at a press conference held today, Friday, that the pilot of the plane contacted the control tower and asked to return to Tehran airport after take off, but he did not do it for reasons that are still unknown.
Zadeh asked the Americans "if they have evidence that the plane was shot down with a missile to provide it," considering that talking about the plane crashing with a missile is a political rather than a technical issue, and he clarified that he asked for help from countries in the investigation, including Sweden and Canada.
The Iranian Civil Aviation Organization stated that the plane's black box suffered from a malfunction, but could benefit from it, noting that a fire broke out for two minutes in the plane before it crashed.
A one or two year investigation
The Iranian Civil Aviation Organization said that it may take "a year or two" to complete the investigation into the plane crash, noting that loading the memory unit from the two black boxes that were recovered from the plane's crash site may take one or two months.
An Iranian official said that Tehran prefers to download the data of the black boxes themselves, but it may send them to Russia, Canada, France or Ukraine if necessary, given that Tehran has agreements with these countries.
State television showed a clip of the two black boxes that he said were in the Iranian Civil Aviation Organization.
For his part, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelinsky said that the hypothesis of shooting down the plane with a missile over Iran is not excluded, but it has not been confirmed.
The Ukrainian President met US diplomats and obtained data on them, and the Ukrainian Foreign Minister described the information as "the task."
According to Agence France-Presse, the European Union is calling for an independent and credible investigation into the plane crash.
The US Transportation Safety Agency announced that it had received a note from the Iranian civil air authorities to investigate the causes of the crash of the Ukrainian Boeing plane shortly after take-off from Tehran on Wednesday.
The agency said in a statement that it "continues to follow the situation about the plane crash and assess the level of its participation in the investigation."
She added that, "as in every investigation involving the National Transportation Safety Authority, the agency did not launch speculation about the causes" of the crash.