Reflections

Why Iran Came Clean on Flight 752

Jan 14, 2020 | 19:37 GMT
Teams examine the scene of a Ukrainian airliner that crashed being unintentionally targeted by Iranian air defenses shortly after takeoff in Tehran on Jan. 8, 2020.

Teams examine the scene of a Ukrainian airliner that crashed shortly after takeoff in Tehran on Jan. 8, 2020. Iran suddenly admitted to downing the plane after three days of denials.

(AKBAR TAVAKOLI/IRNA/AFP via Getty Images)

After three days of denial, it was a stunning about-face. On Jan. 11, Iran's Armed Forces General Staff admitted that one of its surface-to-air missile systems shot down Ukrainian Airlines Flight 752 due to human error. The full acknowledgment turned heads, yet there was a reason for Iran's reversal: The country has no desire to turn itself into a pariah but rather find a way to engage with the rest of the globe, limit the impact of U.S. sanctions and negotiate with the West. The frank admission goes to show that such strategic goals influence many of Iran's choices -- including its volte-face on the aviation disaster....

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