Iran says black boxes of downed Ukraine plane of ‘no help’

Debris is seen from a Ukrainian plane which crashed near Tehran in January. (AP pic)

TEHRAN: The black boxes of a Ukrainian plane mistakenly downed near Tehran airport will be of “no help” in any investigation, but Iran is ready to transfer them abroad, state media said Saturday.

Flight 752, an Ukraine International Airlines jetliner, was struck by a missile and crashed shortly after taking off from the Tehran airport on Jan 8.

“Even though the investigation is nearly complete and the contents of the boxes will be of no help for the investigation, we are ready to give them to a third country or to a (foreign) company”, Mohsen Baharvand, deputy foreign affairs minister, was quoted as saying by the official Irna news agency.

In the immediate aftermath of the crash, Iranian civilian authorities insisted it was likely caused by a technical malfunction, vehemently denying claims the plane was shot down.

But in the early hours of Jan 11, the Iranian military admitted that the plane was shot down due to “human error”, killing 176 people, mainly Iranians and Canadians, including many dual nationals.

Ottawa has demanded for several months that Iran, which does not have the technical means to decode the black boxes, send the items abroad so that their content can be analysed.

After Tehran said in March it was ready to transfer the black boxes to France or Ukraine, Canada’s foreign minister Francois-Philippe Champagne guardedly welcomed a “step in the right direction”, while noting that he would judge Iranian authorities on “their actions and not just their words”.

In his interview with Irna, Baharvand implied that Iran had certain conditions for transferring the black boxes abroad, but did not elaborate.