US Sec Pompeo says it is ‘likely’ Ukrainian plane shot down by Iranian missile
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Friday that the Trump administration believes the Ukrainian plane that crashed in Tehran on Wednesday was shot down by an Iranian missile.
“We do believe it is likely that the plane was shot down by an Iranian missile. We are going to let the investigation play out before we make a final determination,” Pompeo said during a news conference from the White House.
The Ukraine International Airlines flight crashed shortly after take-off on Wednesday from Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport. All 176 people on board were killed.
A Pentagon and senior US intelligence officials, as well as an Iraqi intelligence official, said they believe the flight was hit by a Russian-made Tor missile, according to a Newsweek report.
Iran’s civil aviation chief said he is “certain” that the plane was not hit by a missile.
Soleimani said to be plotting imminent attacks on American facilities before death
Pompeo also said that Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani was plotting imminent attacks on American facilities throughout the Middle East, before he was killed in a US-ordered drone strike in Baghdad on January 3.
“It was very clear Qassem Soleimani himself was plotting a broad, large-scale attack against American interests and those attacks were imminent...against American facilities throughout the region,” said Pompeo.
“We had specific information on an imminent threat and that threat stream included attacks on US embassies,” said Pompeo.
New sanctions on Iran
US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin confirmed further additional sanctions on the Iranian regime, previously announced by US President Donald Trump on Wednesday, including eight senior Iranian officials.
“As a result of the attack on US and allied troops…the President is issuing an executive order authorizing the imposition of additional sanctions against any individual owning, operating, trading with, or assisting sectors of the Iranian economy,” said Mnuchin.
Mnuchin also announced 17 specific sanctions against Iran’s largest steel and iron manufacturers.
“Today’s sanctions are part of our commitment to stop the Iranian regime’s global terrorist activities,” said Mnuchin.