Iran is dropping cooperation with Ukraine after an audio recording was made public that proved Iran knew that it had shot down a Ukrainian airliner last month.

The audio, which had been shared with Ukrainian authorities, was broadcast by Ukrainian media on Sunday. The clip highlights the Jan. 8 exchange between an Iranian pilot and air traffic control. The pilot told controllers that he saw a missile.

“A series of lights like … yes, it is a missile; is there something?” the pilot asks.

“Don’t you see anything anymore?” the controller later wonders.

“Dear engineer, it was an explosion. We saw a very big light there; I don’t really know what it was,” the pilot responds before Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 tumbled from the sky and crashed into the ground shortly after takeoff, killing all 176 people on board.

Iranian officials said the recording’s release was “unprofessional” and pointed out that the files were confidential.

Iran admitted to inadvertently shooting down the plane days after the incident but at first, lied to its country and denied any responsibility, placing the blame on a technical error.

Hassan Rezaeifar, who is in charge of the Iranian investigation team, acknowledged the authenticity of the audio recording but said the public release would signal an end to bilateral cooperation on the matter.

“We will no longer provide any documents to the Ukrainians,” Rezaeifar told Iranian news media. “This action by the Ukrainians makes us not want to give them any more evidence.”

Iran’s admission of guilt on Jan. 11 sparked backlash from Iranian athletes and actors and stoked anti-government demonstrations by thousands of Iranian citizens. The protesters demanded widespread reforms throughout the government, with some burning photos of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and deceased Gen. Qassem Soleimani, whom the United States killed in a January drone strike.

The airliner shoot down came as Iran was on high alert in the hours after it lobbed more than a dozen short-range ballistic missiles at bases housing U.S. troops in Iraq. The attack on the bases was retaliation for the death of Soleimani, who, in his role as Quds Force commander was responsible for killing and maiming of hundreds of American troops.

The White House’s Iran adviser Brian Hook recently said the strike against Soleimani, 62, prevented the deaths of “ hundreds of Americans,” an assessment that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he shared.

Source » washingtonexaminer