Could Chernobyl syndrome take hold in Tehran?
On Jan. 8, Iranian forces shot down a Ukrainian airliner shortly after it took off from an airport in Tehran carrying 176 passengers bound for Kyiv. Many of those killed were Iranian nationals living abroad, including over 60 from Canada, who had come to visit family during the winter break.
The tragedy was caused when a trigger-happy Iranian anti-aircraft crew fired a Russian-made missile at what they later claimed to have mistaken for a U.S. cruise missile. This happened a few hours after the Iranian missile attack on an Iraqi base housing U.S. troops, which was in retaliation for the targeted killing of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Gen. Qassem Soleimani.
Iran’s initial reaction was one of complete denial, despite the obvious indications that it was responsible. It was only after four days and overwhelming evidence, including a video showing the missile impact, that they finally changed their tune and reluctantly began to release some details. But officials continued to reject any independent investigation of the disastrous decisions that led up to this, starting with their failure to close the airport. And, when Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, who is responsible for marketing the Islamic Republic to outsiders, finally acknowledged the truth, it was coupled with the usual propaganda lines and deflection of blame: “Human error at time of crisis caused by U.S. adventurism led to disaster.”
If this combination of lies and denial sounds familiar, it is because the same elements were central to the aftermath of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor fire ...
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