Man-made disaster: On Iran shooting
down Ukraine plane (The Hindu)
Mains Paper 2: International
Prelims level : Surface-to-air missile
Mains level : Iran shooting down Ukraine plane
The shooting down of a passenger plane by Iran’s military on Wednesday,
a few hours after it launched missile attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq, is the
most tragic outcome of the recent spike in U.S.-Iran tensions.
The Ukrainian jet with 176 aboard was hit by an Iranian surface-to-air
missile shortly after it took off from Tehran’s Imam Khomeini Airport.
After initially rejecting western assertion that an Iranian missile
brought down the plane, Tehran on Saturday said one of its soldiers fired
the missile, mistaking the jet for an enemy aircraft “as it turned to a
This is not the first time U.S.-Iran tensions have led to an aviation
In 1988, in the last stage of the Iran-Iraq war, a U.S. Navy warship
shot down an Iran Air flight over the Gulf, killing all 290 passengers.
Then the U.S. troops said they mistook the plane for a military aircraft
that was going to attack the ship.
Iran says the same today. In both incidents, innocents, who did not have
anything to do with the conflict, became victims.
Iran blames “human error” for the attack on the passenger plane. But
whatever the context is, it cannot abdicate responsibility for what
Ukraine International Airlines says the flight took off after clearance
from the airport.
The airline also rejects the Iranian military’s claim that the plane
veered off its route.
Iran’s admission and apology is a step in the right direction. But it
should carry out, along with international investigators, a thorough probe
into what led to the “accident”, and punish whoever is responsible for the
Such mistakes are unacceptable even in war.
Iran should have put in place the highest safety measures and followed
international protocols while preparing itself for enemy retaliation.
Clearly it did not do so. And innocent people paid a price for Iran’s
Both Iran and the U.S. should also ask themselves whether the
confrontational path they have chosen since Mr. Trump unilaterally pulled
the U.S. out of the Iran nuclear deal, in May 2018, was worth the risk.
Both countries were on the brink of an all-out war early this week.
At least 226 people, mostly Iranians, have already lost their lives in
tragedies related to the Soleimani killing (over 50 were killed in a
stampede at the funeral).
If Iran is sincere in its apology, it should not only unearth what
happened and punish the culprits but also take immediate steps to reduce
tensions with the U.S.