Iran’s mea culpa



By admitting that its own missile shot down the Ukraine International Airlines jet last week, Iran has put an end to a debate on who could have been behind the disaster. The country should now reach out to those nations whose unsuspecting citizens became the victims what it calls an act of “human error” (Front page, “Iran admits its missile shot down Ukraine jet,” Jan. 12). In this context, one is reminded of a similar incident in 1988 when a guided missile cruiser of U.S. Navy shot down Iran Air Flight 655 over Iran’s territorial waters, killing all 290 people on board. It took quite some time for the then-U.S. President Ronald Reagan to express regret while still insisting that the country’s officers acted in self-defence. In contrast, Tehran has been more gracious in acknowledging its mistake. In this regard, the UN must take the initiative and devise a more effective mechanism for averting such tragedies in future.

S.K. Choudhury,


It may be possible for Iran to compensate the kin of the victims but it remains to be seen how the country will bring the guilty to book. In this context, it may be recalled that the U.S. has not only never expressed remorse for shooting down an Iranian passenger plane using a surface-to-air missile in 1988, it has also shown the audacity to maintain that there was no improper use of force. Its payment of compensation later was only a tacit admission of guilt.

C.G. Kuriakose,

Kothamangalam, Kerala

Though the Iranian authorities magnanimously accepted their mistake, shooting down a civilian plane was an unpardonable act. In the war-like situation prevailing in Iran, there was a possibility of the missile man mistaking the passenger jet for a cruise missile. But, that cannot be taken as an excuse, when there were communication facilities available between the pilot and the airport. The guilty should be made accountable and punished, as demanded by Ukraine.

D. Sethuraman,


Iran’s mea culpa in the tragic shooting down of a Ukrainian passenger jet is a sign of contrition, but its attempt to trivialise the disaster’s cause as a missile operator’s misjudgment glosses over its complicity in creating a war-like situation by the frenzied ratcheting up of tensions after the assassination of one of its top generals. Iran’s right to self-defence and its right to retaliate against the U.S for the unprovoked killing of a military commander provided it with a margin of international support and sympathy. But even an undeclared war demands nations to ensure the safety of civilians likely to be in the crossfire of fighting. When Iran planned a missile attack against American targets, it should have issued a ‘no flight’ advisory to civilian aircraft using Iranian airspace. The avoidable loss of human lives makes the wrangling over the intricacies of international laws a travesty. Having admitted its horrific mistake, Iran should carry forward the process of healing and reconciliation by offering fair financial compensation to the families of the ill-fated jet’s crew and passengers without waiting for the international law’s protracted proceedings to run their normal course.

V.N. Mukundarajan,


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Printable version | Jan 27, 2020 1:13:57 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/letters/irans-mea-culpa/article30551872.ece

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