Investigators will look into the possibility that a missile shot down the Ukrainian passenger jet that crashed in Iran, a senior Ukrainian official said on Thursday, but he did not rule out a range of other possibilities for the disaster that killed at least 176 people.
The official, Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, said that investigators were following up on unconfirmed reports that fragments of a Russian-made Tor surface-to-air missile — a system used by Iran — had been found near where the plane, a Boeing 737-800, came down.
Ukraine was negotiating with Iran to allow the investigators to search the crash site near Tehran for possible rocket fragments, he told Censor.net, a Ukrainian news outlet. The Iranians have also, through the International Civil Aviation Organization, invited the National Transportation Safety Board of the United States to assist in the investigation despite having previously stated that the Americans would not be involved, according to two people familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The NTSB has reached out to the State Department to figure out how to proceed, the people said. Sanctions against Iran prevent Boeing from contacting the Iranians without an export license, they said.