The Foreign Office has banned all travel to Iran amid fears a Ukrainian passenger jet, which crashed shortly after taking off from Tehran on Wednesday morning (8 January), was brought down by an Iranian missile.
Prime minister Boris Johnson, echoing similar statements from Canadian president Justin Trudeau and US president Donald Trump, said there was now a "body of information" suggesting Ukraine International Airlines (UIA) flight PS 752 "was shot down by an Iranian surface to air missile".
All three leaders have through stressed the incident "may well have been unintentional". The tragedy unfolded just hours after Iran launched retaliatory missile strikes on two Iraqi military bases housing US and coalition personnel following the death of top general Qasem Solemeini, who was killed in a US airstrike on Friday (3 January).
All 176 people, 167 passengers and nine crew, died when the plane burst into flames and crashed on the outskirts of Tehran. Onboard were four British nationals, Johnson confirmed, as well as 63 Canadian nationals, many of whom were expecting to transit through Kiev where the flight was heading and travel onwards to Toronto.
Johnson described the incident as a tragedy and said his thoughts were with all of those who had lost loved ones. He added the government was providing support to their families.
"We are working closely with Canada and our international partners and there now needs to be a full, transparent investigation," said Johnson. "The UK continues to call on all sides urgently to de-escalate to reduce tensions in the region."
Foreign secretary Dominic Raab echoed Johnson’s comments during a meeting with Canadian foreign minister Francois-Philippe Champagne on Thursday (9 January). "We agree with the Canadian assessment that indicates that Ukraine International Airlines flight was shot down by a surface to air missile.
"Our view on the crash underlines why we urgently now need an independent, full and transparent investigation to establish what caused it. The Iranian regime must open up to the international community, including access to the crash site, so we can get the truth as quickly as possible and give the families of the victims an understanding of what happened to their loved ones."
Citing Iranian state media, the Association Press reports Iran has now invited Boeing to take part in the investigation. Immediately after the incident, which both Iran and Ukraine initially said was the result of a technical issue with the Boeing 737-800 aircraft, it was reported Iran would deny the US and Boeing access to the plane’s black box, owing to the ongoing tensions with the US following the killing of Solemeini.