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SEPTEMBER 2020

Boeing Incident In Iran: Summing Up Facts, Versions And Consequences

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Boeing Incident In Iran: Summing Up Facts, Versions And Consequences

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Investigation

On January 14th, Iran’s Judiciary announced that the first arrests in relation to the downing of the Ukrainian Airlines flight 752 were carried out.

Gholam-Hossein Esmaili, the Judiciary’s spokesman said that special commissions had been set up by the General Staff of the Armed Forces to investigate the tragedy.

“Thorough investigations have been launched and a number of individuals have been arrested,” he said.

No information was provided regarding the number of arrested individuals.

Boeing Incident In Iran: Summing Up Facts, Versions And Consequences

Gholam-Hossein Esmaili

The Judiciary Organization of the Armed Forces was tasked with probing the data on the aircraft’s black boxes with the help of experts from the General Staff of the Armed Forces and the Civil Aviation Organization of Iran as well as electronic warfare professionals, Esmaili added.

Regarding the on-going protests, Esmaili referred to the brief arrest of British Ambassador to Tehran Robert Macaire during an unauthorized protest near Tehran’s Amir Kabir University.

“The fact that the UK ambassador to the Islamic Republic attends an illegal gathering, takes photos and videos of the event and plays a provocative role is totally unacceptable,” he said.

“In his first encounter with [Iranian] security forces, [Macaire] spoke in English and refused to introduce himself, but when he later realized that he risked being arrested, he began to speak in Persian and introduced himself as Britain’s envoy,” the official added.

He said the British ambassador’s action clearly amounted to “mischief and lying,” stressing that “under international law, such elements are regarded as persona non grata, whether they are diplomats or not. The public is demanding his expulsion.”

The Judiciary said that the decision on whether to expel the British Ambassador was left to the Foreign Ministry, but according to him Rob Macaire was “persona non grata.”

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani gave a televised address on January 14th, in which he promised a thorough investigation into the “unforgivable error” of shooting down the plane.

Rouhani called for a special court to be set up with a ranking judge and dozens of experts to investigate the “tragic event”.

“This is not an ordinary case. The entire world will be watching this court,” Rouhani said. He said that everybody related to the incident needed to be punished.

“For our people, it is very important in this incident that whoever was at fault or negligent at any level” faces justice, Rouhani said. “Anyone who should be punished must be punished.”

The president called the government’s admission that Iranian forces shot down the plane the “first good step”.

“We should assure people that it will not happen again,” Rouhani said, adding that his government was “accountable to Iranian and other nations who lost lives in the plane crash”.

Iran invited experts from Canada, France, Ukraine and the US to take part in the probe into the air disaster. So far, only Canada appears to have agreed to sent experts and they would be allowed to access the wreckage and the black box flight records.

Protests

The Boeing crash incident near Tehran became a pretext for a campaign aimed at destabilization of the internal situation in the country.

Immidiately after the Iranian government claimed responsibility for the downing of Ukrainian Airlines flight 752, anti-government protests started in Tehran. The protests began with students gathering outside Tehran’s university to denounce the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). Later, demonstrations spread in different parts of the city.

They called for the ‘resignation’ of  the country’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and denounced the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

Some of protesters vandalized posters with General Qassem Soleimani, assassinated by the US military on January 3. It’s interesting to note that most of the videos showing protests are filmed in a way to show that this is a ‘mass event’, while the real number of protesters was small.

Anti-Iranian soruces also circulated unconfirmed claims that police opened fire with live rounds on protests. Police denied the claims.

Another thing to note is that the British Ambassador to Iran Rob Macaire particiapted in the protest. He was briefly detained by security forces and then released.

Tasnim news said he had been detained “for organizing suspicious movements and protests in front of Amir Kabir University but released after hours”.

The Trump administration and some other Western powers publicly called for a further destabilization of Iran by fueling the possible riots. President Donald Trump even demonstrated his “support” of the Iranian people in Farsi.

The protests appear to be on-going but their scale is unclear, since MSM appears to be misrepresenting them as a sort of revolution, which clearly isn’t happening. Pro-Iran tweets appear to be censored, but Iranian media initially reported that there were only approximately 1,000 people protesting.

The US, with apparent assistance with the UK are attempting to steer the spotlight away from Washington’s assassination of an Iranian official, in disregard of any and all international laws and the US inability to provide a military answer to a direct missile strike on its forces in Iraq by a state actor. This is further supported by propaganda in media, as well as social media.

Boeing  shootdown

On January 11, Iran officially confirmed that it air defense had downed the Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737-800 (Flight PS752) near Tehran on January 8 due to “a human error”. Iranian authorities provided the following chain of events:

  1. At approximate 23:00 UTC, on January 7, the IRGC carried out a missile strike on US military targets in Iraq;
  2. The country’s air defense network was on highest alert amid reports on a possible cruise missile strike by the United States and increased flights of US warplanes near Iranian airspace;
  3. At 2:38 UTC, January 8, the PS752 took off from Imam Khomeini International Airport and moved close to a “sensitive” facility of the IRGC “when completing a loop”. The aircraft reportedly deviated from the general PS752 course for around 2km;
  4. The altitude and the direction of the flight’s movement “were like an enemy target”. The surface-to-air missile system operator mistakenly identified as the plane as an incoming “cruise missile” 19km away;
  5. The missile system operator acted independently because of a failure in the communication system;
  6. The operator then “took the wrong decision” of firing on the perceived threat in a “ten-second” time span to shoot or ignore the flying object. During the night, the operator repeatedly called for a halt in flights in the area. This was not done.
  7. A “short-range missile” exploded next to the plane. After this, the plane continued flying for a while, and “exploded when it hit the ground.” The Iranian side did not mention the missile system used. Supposedly, it was the Tor low to medium altitude, short-range surface-to-air missile system.
Boeing Incident In Iran: Summing Up Facts, Versions And Consequences

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Iran described the situation with the Boeing as a result of the combination of aforementioned factors in the “atmosphere of threats and intimidation by the aggressive American regime against the Iranian nation”. Nonetheless, the real picture of events may have been different.

The main question is how the Boeing 737-800 may have been mistaken for an incoming cruise missile, especially taking into account that this situation developed near the capital’s working airport.

The plane was moving from the airport area. Furthermore, as experts note the Boeing plane and a cruise missile have a different signal on the radar.

“The Tor air defense system, as I told you last time, has two radars. One is a panoramic one that rotates continuously and captures everything that flies around. When the plane took off from the airport, the radar saw it in about twenty seconds. And then all the while the plane flew, all six minutes, the track was seen on the screen of the radar. This  is why from the very beginning of the flight it was clear from where the target took off.

Of course. While only the radar was working, there was a chance to think that that something military was flying next to a civilian plane. But then the missile guidance locator turns on. The missile is aimed at the target by a very narrow beam, around one degree wide. It distinguishes everything so well that there can already be no mistake. The chance that this beam will capture not only a civilian aircraft, but also something else is almost zero.

The commander of the (air defense) crew also evaluates the signal strength from the target by the magnitude of the mark: a large target or a small one. The indicators show a bright mark or dim. Simply put, the commander should have seen something big. From a large passenger plane, the mark will be ten times brighter than from a military target. And the size of a cruise missile is like from a small airplane. And it has a very low reflected power. The brightness of this point is no longer ten, but a hundred times less than that of an airplane. A missile flies in a away to be unnoticed , at a very low altitude, these are tens of meters. The Iranians shot down a huge plane flying at an altitude of 2400 meters. How can this be confused? The difference is where to direct the beam: up to the sky or down along the earth,” Andrey Gorbachevsky, the developer of radars, commented to Noavaya Gazeta daily.

In these conditions, it’s possible to draw up the following  scenario:

The plane experienced some technical difficulties during or immediately after the take-off and deviated from the course moving closer to the IRGC military site. Information appeared that the preflight inspection checklist was not signed by Iranian airport engineers, but the Ukrainian side insisted to fly at its own risk and responsibility.

Therefore, the system operator, that experienced a communication failure, considered the plane as a ‘military threat’ because it may have been hijacked for a 9/11-style attack, got under control via a cyber-attack and/or used as a cover for a pinpoint missile strike on the IRGC site.

This version does not explain how the communication failure could appear at the air defense post that must have two shielded communication channels: primary tactical circuit and the alternative. The possible explanation with an electronic warfare attack does not hold up against criticism civilian communication channels remained operational with routine flights continuing from the Tehran airport.

Another factor is the video of the missile hit that appeared online after the plane crash. How this person, could have known when and what exactly to film without advance knowledge of the developments?

Then, there is one more explanation:

The plane was shot down deliberately to exert additional pressure on Iran from the United States during the alleged acute phase of the crisis between Iran and the United States, which had a chance to develop into an open regional war. In the framework of this version, it could be suspected that the operator may have been recruited by US intelligence or blackmailed, or the system was captured in an act of sabotage by the US or its affiliated forces.

Regardless the existing gaps in the current official version of the events and the real course of the developments, Iran will and further be forced to claim that the airliner shoot down was a “human error”. Iran can ill-afford to admit the lack of control over key objects of military infrastructure in the heart of the country.

At the same time, the US and its allies will use and are already using this incident in order to increase diplomatic and media pressure on Iran and even in their attempts to destabilize the internal situation in the country.

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