Iran admits to having downed UIA passenger plane, says it was by mistake
UNTV News • January 11, 2020 • 1209
TEHRAN — Iran admitted on Saturday that its armed forces had downed a Ukraine International Airlines passenger jet with 176 civilians on board and said it had been an involuntary human error.
The Iranian military had been denying their responsibility in the tragedy – which took place on Tuesday, shortly after the UIA flight PS752 took off from Tehran airport – for the past two days after several NATO members, spearheaded by Canada, said they had intelligence suggesting the plane crash was not due to a technical error, but rather had been brought down by ballistic missiles.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran deeply regrets this disastrous mistake,” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani wrote on Twitter. “My thoughts and prayers go to all the mourning families. I offer my sincerest condolences.”
Rouhani said in a separate post that the investigation into the circumstances that led to the tragic error would continue.
Meanwhile, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard said in a statement that the mistake was made in the context of a “very delicate crisis situation,” claiming that the Boeing 737 had flown close to a IRG military center with the “altitude and flight position of an enemy target.”
Iran’s foreign minister, Javad Zarif, also took to Twitter to express his regret for the incident and partially blamed it on the United States’ “adventurism.”
“A sad day. Preliminary conclusions of internal investigation by Armed Forces: Human error at time of crisis caused by US adventurism led to disaster,” Zarif wrote. “Our profound regrets, apologies and condolences to our people, to the families of all victims, and to other affected nations.”
The crash occurred in the context of a targeted missile attack against two US bases in Iraq, Tehran’s retaliation for the assassination of its top general, Qasem Soleimani, via drone strike in Baghdad on Jan. 3. Iran warned the US in advance of this limited response, thus avoiding any casualties.
On Friday, the head of Iran’s Civil Aviation Organization, Ali Abedzade, ruled out the possibility that the airliner had been shot down by the army.
“One thing is for certain, this airplane was not hit by a missile,” Abedzadeh said during a press conference in Tehran held in response to earlier remarks by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau saying his government had evidence indicating that the cause of the crash that killed all 176 passengers was a missile strike.
On Saturday, it was also revealed that 57 passengers onboard the aircraft were Canadian nationals, instead of the 63 that had been initially reported. EFE-EPA
The government of the United States on Friday welcomed the Philippines’ decision to retract the abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).
Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, earlier in the day, announced the development after President Rodrigo Duterte met with visiting US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin III.
“We strongly believe that the VFA, and the broader alliance that the VFA enables, strengthens not only the security of our two nations but also the rules-based order that benefits all nations in the Indo-Pacific,” the US Embassy said in a statement.
Duterte and Austin met in Malacañang on Thursday.
Austin is on an official visit to Southeast Asia that includes stops in Singapore, Vietnam, and the Philippines. The visit aims to bolster the US’ ties with the said nations.
His visit coincides with the commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations of the US and the Philippines and the 70th Anniversary of the Philippines-US Mutual Defense Treaty this year.
The PH-US visiting forces deal came into force in 1999. It outlines the guidelines about the treatment of their troops when visiting the US or the Philippines.
The pact also includes provisions on visa and passport policies for US troops, and the American government’s right to retain jurisdiction over its personnel, among others.
Duterte last year ordered the abrogation of the VFA, which is anchored in the PH-US 1951 defense treaty.
The termination of the pact, however, was suspended citing the coronavirus pandemic and the relevant developments in the region.
MANILA, Philippines — The United States (US) government, through its Agency for International Development (USAID), has launched a P1.6-billion ($34 million) project to support a more competitive, secure, and resilient Philippine energy sector, its embassy said.
In a statement, the embassy said the five-year Energy Secure Philippines (ESP) project will promote the country’s key energy sector priorities and support its climate mitigation goals.
“Through the Energy Secure Philippines Project, the U.S. will work with Philippine government and private sector partners to improve the performance and efficiency of energy utilities, deploy renewable energy systems, enhance competition in the power sector, and address energy sector cybersecurity,” it said.
The U.S. government will also mobilize more than P36 billion ($740 million) in private sector investment and help develop at least 500 megawatts of clean energy generation capacity.
“We look forward to building and sustaining new partnerships with diverse stakeholders across the energy sector whose collective efforts are required for a more competitive and advanced energy sector,” said U.S. Embassy Chargé d’Affaires John Law.
Law also announced the “Energy Evolution Challenge,” a grant facility that will fund proposals to advance research and deployment of innovative energy systems.
The Philippines and the US signed a memorandum of understanding for the said project. The virtual MOU signing was attended by Law, USAID Philippines Acting Mission Director Sean Callahan, and Philippine Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi.
Also, present to witness the event was Energy Regulatory Commission Chairperson Agnes Devanadera.
The United States and the Philippines are celebrating their 75th anniversary of diplomatic relations this year.
MANILA, Philippines – Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and United States Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin III on Sunday (April 11) discussed the situation in the West Philippine Sea and some measures to deepen the defense cooperation of two countries amid recent tensions in the contested waters.
In a statement, the Department of National Defense (DND) said the defense chiefs of the two nations held a telephone conference to talk about the situation in the West Philippine Sea and recent developments in regional security.
DND Spokesperson Arsenio Andolong earlier said that the Philippines is “keeping all options open” but said they are closely coordinating with the United States government on the matter.
Andolong also said that both parties are “committed to undertake their obligations under the Mutual Defense Treaty so that neither stands alone in these issues involving the two states’ inherent right of self-defense, individually and collectively.”
The United States and the Philippines signed the mutual defense treaty in 1951.
In a separate statement, Austin said he spoke with his counterpart to reaffirm their commitment to the alliance between the US and the Philippines.
“I had a productive call with SND @del_lorenzana to discuss challenges in the South China Sea and the need for unity in ensuring security and stability in the region. #FreeandopenIndoPacific,” he said.
I had a productive call with SND @del_lorenzana to discuss challenges in the South China Sea and the need for unity in ensuring security and stability in the region. #FreeandopenIndoPacific
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