Iran is Very Different from the United States

It has taken about 48 hours, but Iran has admitted that it accidentally shot down Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752.

Given the fraught nature of the whole affair, the (relative) transparency and candor is remarkable, particularly when compared to the US response to its shoot down of Iran Air Flight 655 (Denials for years, and giving the reckless captain of the Vincennes a medal), and the 50+ year French coverup of their shoot down of Air France flight 1611.

It’s a tragedy, but in the aftermath, the Iranian government has behaved relatively well:

After maintaining for days that there was no evidence that one of its missiles had struck a Boeing 737-800 minutes after it took off from Tehran on Wednesday with 176 people on board, Iran admitted early on Saturday that its military had shot down the passenger jet by mistake.

The military blamed human error. In a statement, it said Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 had taken a sharp, unexpected turn that brought it near a sensitive military base. Hours later, though, an Iranian official walked back that claim.

“The plane was flying in its normal direction without any error and everybody was doing their job correctly,” Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps’ airspace unit, said during a televised news conference later Saturday. “If there was a mistake, it was made by one of our members.”

In a post on Twitter, Iran’s foreign minister, Mohamad Javad Zarif, apologized but appeared to also blame American “adventurism” for the tragedy, writing: “Human error at time of crisis caused by US adventurism led to disaster.”

President Hassan Rouhani said on Twitter that Iran “deeply regrets this disastrous mistake.”


A commander of the aerospace division of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps in Iran, Amirali Hajizadeh, said on Saturday that he accepted responsibility for the plane’s downing minutes after takeoff in Tehran, according to Iranian state TV.

In a televised address, he gave more details about the sequence of events that he said had led to the disaster. He said it had been misidentified as a cruise missile, and was shot down with a short-range missile.

He also said that the Iranian missile operator had acted independently because of “jamming.”

“I wish I was dead,” Mr. Hajizadeh was quoted as saying by local news outlets. “I accept all responsibility for this incident.”

He said that whatever decision the Iranian authorities made, “I will accept with the arms open.”

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