Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Friday February 12, 2021
Diplomatic Channels: Iran and China
The Canadian government and security agencies are reviewing an audio recording in which a man — identified by sources as Iran’s foreign affairs minister — discusses the possibility that the destruction of Flight PS752 was an intentional act, CBC News has learned.
The individual, identified by sources as Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammad Javad Zarif, is heard saying on the recording that there are a “thousand possibilities” to explain the downing of the jet, including a deliberate attack involving two or three “infiltrators” — a scenario he said was “not at all unlikely.”
He is also heard saying the truth will never be revealed by the highest levels of Iran’s government and military.
“There are reasons that they will never be revealed,” he says in Farsi. “They won’t tell us, nor anyone else, because if they do it will open some doors into the defence systems of the country that will not be in the interest of the nation to publicly say.”
On Jan. 8, 2020, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps shot down Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 in the skies over Tehran with two surface-to-air missiles, killing all 176 people aboard, including 138 people with ties to Canada.
CBC News has listened to the recording of the private conversation, which took place in the months immediately following the destruction of Flight PS752. CBC had three people translate the recording from Farsi to English to capture nuances in the language. (CBC)
Meanwhile, Canadian businessman Michael Spavor called his country’s Beijing embassy from an airport in China’s northeast. He was being questioned by authorities after being blocked from boarding a flight out of China.
Concern at the embassy over the call shifted to alarm when officials learned another Canadian had been apprehended in Beijing that day, on Dec. 10, 2018, according to people familiar with the matter. This time, it was former diplomat Michael Kovrig.
Since then, the two men have been thrust to the center of a high-stakes standoff between Canada, the U.S. and China, where they have been detained and accused of espionage. Hope had surged recently among family members and supporters that the men might be released if separate talks to resolve criminal charges against Meng Wanzhou, an executive at China’s Huawei Technologies Co., bore fruit. Canada has accused China of detaining the two men in retaliation for Ms. Meng’s arrest on a U.S. extradition request. (Wall Street Journal)