Iran says Canada misusing the grief of Ukraine plane victims  

December 21, 2020 - 23:0

TEHRAN – The Iranian Foreign Ministry on Monday lashed out at Canada for misusing the unfortunate downing of a Ukrainian passenger plane on January 8 near Tehran, saying the Ottawa government “is trading” with the grief of the bereaved families.

An Iranian air defense unit mistakenly shot down Flight 752 of the Ukrainian International Airlines shortly after take-off from Tehran en route to Kiev. 

167 passengers and 9 crew members were killed in the downing. The victims included 82 Iranians, 63 Iranian-Canadians, 11 Ukrainians, 10 Swedes, four Afghans, three Germans, and three British nationals.

The operator had mistaken the Boeing 737-800 with a cruise missile at a time when the air defense systems were at the highest level of alert following the United States’ earlier assassination of prominent Iranian commander Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh told a press conference that since the first day of the incident Canada has acted irresponsibly in the process of investigation into the incident.
“Their behavior has been quite political and nonlegal,” Khatibzadeh pointed out.

Khatibzadeh’s reprimand came less than a week after remarks by Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne concerning the tragic incident.

Speaking to CBC News Network, Champagne alleged that he did not believe that the mistaken downing of the airliner by Iran’s air defense “can be blamed on human error”.

According to Press TV, Champagne also said he was concerned about the quality of information that was to be released by Iran about the tragedy.

“I invite the Canadian foreign minister and government to observe diplomatic manners and know their limits and positions,” Khatibzadeh said, “Otherwise they will receive a different response.”

Mohsen Baharvand, Iran's deputy foreign minister for legal and international affairs, told the Tehran Times in November that Canada’s unilateral steps and statements against Iran on the plane crash is hampering Tehran’s efforts to clarify the truth.

Describing Canada’s behavior against Iran as “strange”, Baharvand said the Canadian government has begun to take unilateral actions in order to “politicize” the plane crash incident.

“Strangely, the Canadian government has begun to take unilateral actions, and we see no good reason for that except that Canada intends to politicize the issue,”  the deputy foreign minister for legal affairs lamented.

Baharvand said, “In meetings between the foreign ministers of two countries, we have explained what cooperation Iran had done and their representatives visited the area where the plane crashed.”

He added, “They participated in reading of the black box of the plane in Paris and any other cooperation. Iran has provided any necessary cooperation with Canada and other parties.”

In his Monday press briefing, Khatibzadeh added Iran had not missed a single date in completing its investigation into the tragedy with the help of all of its relevant bodies in line with its domestic and international responsibilities.

‘Technical report to be released soon’

The Foreign Ministry spokesman said the technical report that has resulted from the investigation was ready and due to be released “today or tomorrow,” adding that the Ukrainian side and the other concerned parties would be sent a copy online.

 ‘Canada in no position to take about human rights’ 

Canada lays strong claim to upholding human rights and regularly accuses Iran of violating universal principles.

In the press briefing, the Foreign Ministry spokesman also called on Canada to be accountable for its role as the prime abettor of U.S. sanctions against Iran rather than throw irresponsible and groundless blames at the country under the guise of human rights advocacy.

“A government that has done its utmost to block transfer of medicine to Iran is in no position to take a podium and speak about human rights,” Press TV quoted Khatibzadeh as saying.

“Canada has provided most cooperation with the White House to prevent shipment of medicine to the Iranian nation,” he added.

‘Action, not just words’

Separately, the spokesman addressed recent remarks by Jack Sullivan, U.S. President-elect Joe Biden’s national security advisor-designate, that Washington considered rejoining the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers to be a “feasible and achievable” option.

Khatibzadeh said he had to examine Sullivan’s remarks in more detail, but any potential resumption by the United States of its international commitments under the deal “has to manifest itself in action, not just in words.”

Khatibzadeh reminded that the U.S. is in egregious violation of its obligations under the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231 that has endorsed the nuclear accord, and has to return to its contractual obligations.

Washington left the agreement that is officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in 2018, despite the multi-party nature of the deal and its enshrinement as a Security Council’s ratification. It then returned the draconian sanctions that the JCPOA had lifted.

Iran, in return, started a set of nuclear countermeasures, and announced following General Soleimani’s assassination that it no longer recognized the limits that it was supposed to implement under the agreement.

However, Khatibzadeh said, “If the opposite side returned to its commitments, we would reverse the reduction in our commitments too.”

‘European Parliament’s measure one-sided’

The official, meanwhile, denounced the European Parliament’s recent resolution that supposedly sanctioned a number of Iranian officials, whom the European legislature accused of violating human rights.

In the resolution, the European body criticized Iran’s recent execution of Rouhollah Zam, a recognized Western-affiliated anti-Iran propagandist, who used to engage in extensive subversive measures against the Islamic establishment and the Iranian nation.

Khatibzadeh called the measure “one-sided, hackneyed, threadbare, and unacceptable,” questioning how the EP had passed such a measure, while failing all the time to either denounce the U.S. economic war on Iran and prevent European countries from abetting the warfare.

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