Canada is reviewing an audio recording in which an Iranian official, reportedly identified as Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, concedes that the downing of a Ukrainian airliner by the Iranian military over Tehran last year may have been an intentional act, Canada’s public broadcaster reported on Tuesday.
The man in the recording, which broadcaster CBC said has been identified as Zarif, is heard saying that there are a “thousand possibilities” to explain the downing of the airliner, including a deliberate attack involving “infiltrators.”
That scenario was “not at all unlikely,” the man said in the recording, according to CBC.
The man adds that the Iranian regime will never reveal the truth about what happened.
“There are reasons that they will never be revealed,” he said in Farsi, according to the report.
“They won't tell us, nor anyone else, because if they do it will open some doors into the defence systems of the country that will not be in the interest of the nation to publicly say,” he added.
Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) shot down the Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752 on January 8, killing all 176 people onboard.
Iran admitted to downing the plane days after of denying responsibility and insisting the plane crashed due to a “technical failure.”
Ralph Goodale, Special Adviser to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on the case, said Canada’s forensic examination and assessment team obtained a copy of the recording in November.
The audio file contains sensitive information and commenting publicly on its details could put lives at risk, CBC cited him as saying.
The relevant Canadian authorities are evaluating the recording’s authenticity, Goodale said.
Victims’ families urge Canada to blacklist Zarif
An association representing the families of the victims released a statement on Wednesday following the CBC report, urging the Canadian government to designate the IRGC as a terrorist organisation and impose sanctions on Zarif.
Zarif’s “only responsibility is to normalize this mass murder and avert any international criminal proceeding,” the statement read.
“Iran cannot be trusted and is not willing to disclose the truth and to hold its officials to account,” the statement added.
Some of the victims’ relatives believe it is likely the plane was deliberately shot down.
Report ‘incorrect and unreliable,’ says Iran
Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman dismissed the report on Wednesday as “incorrect and unreliable.”
“The claims made in the report are incorrect and unreliable, and many of the remarks attributed to Zarif are fundamentally inconsistent with his language (manner of speaking),” the semi-official ISNA news agency quoted foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh as saying.
Khatibzadeh urged Canada not to “add to the grief of bereaved families by spreading rumours.”