Iran invited Boeing and U.S. aviation investigators Friday to join its examination into the loss of the Ukrainian jetliner on its territory earlier this week. Canada and the UK as well as the Ukraine have also been cleared to attend as officials in Tehran rushed to clear the site of all debris.
The state-run IRNA news agency quoted a Foreign Ministry spokesman as saying Iran, “has invited both Ukraine and the Boeing company to participate in the investigations”.
The spokesman, Abbas Mousavi, said it will also welcome experts from other countries whose citizens died in the crash.
The move came after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, citing Canadian and other intelligence agencies, said the plane appeared to have been hit by an Iranian missile.
As Breitbart News reported, Trudeau said Canadian and allied intelligence supports his claim of an Iranian weapon strike. He declined to get into the specific intelligence, but said it appeared it was a surface-to-air missile that struck the plane.
“The intelligence evidence suggests very clearly a possible and probable cause for the crash,” Trudeau told a news conference, although on the evidence coming from Iran, there may be very little left for any investigation to use in its inquiry.
Open source investigation website Bellingcat, whose painstaking work linked downed MH17 to Russia back in 2014, said it had verified images of a bulldozer clearing a debris field in Shahedshahr on the outskirts of Tehran.
Others share that concern:
— Richard Grenell (@RichardGrenell) January 9, 2020
CBS crew just visited the #Ukrainian airlines crash site west of Tehran. Nine am local time. Virtually all pieces of the plane were removed yesterday – say locals. Scavengers now picking site clean. No security. Not cordoned off. No sign of any investigators. pic.twitter.com/hhNJyokhjq
— Elizabeth Palmer (@elizapalmer) January 10, 2020
Earlier, U.S. officials said it was “highly likely” an Iranian anti-aircraft missile downed the jetliner, killing all 176 people on board.
They suggested it could well have been a mistake although a preliminary report into the crash by the Iranian Civil Aviation Organisation said flight PS752 fell to earth after the pilot had tried to turn back to Tehran airport following a technical problem.
The tragedy occurred hours after Iran targeted U.S. forces in two bases in Iraq with missiles.
The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has accepted the invitation to participate in its investigation in Tehran, the agency confirmed late Thursday U.S. time.
The NTSB said in a statement its Response Operations Center had received formal notification from Iran of Wednesday’s crash. “The NTSB has designated an accredited representative to the investigation of the crash,” the agency said.
The U.S. is allowed to take part under global rules since the Boeing 737-800NG jet was designed and built there.
Canada, which had dozens of passengers onboard, has also assigned an expert, while a team from Ukraine held discussions in Tehran on Thursday.
A woman holds a sign for one of the victims of Ukrainian Airlines flight 752 which crashed in Iran, during a vigil at Mel Lastman Square in Toronto, Ontario on January 9, 2020. (GEOFF ROBINS/AFP via Getty Images)
Meanwhile French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian on Friday said France is available to contribute its expertise if necessary to the crash probe.
Tehran has said it will provide consular facilities and visas for accredited investigators, said Farhad Parvaresh, Iran’s representative at the International Civil Aviation Organization.
AFP contributed to this story