NEW YORK: The US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said on Thursday (Jan 9) it will join the probe into the Ukrainian Boeing airliner which went down in Iran.
In a statement posted on its Twitter account, the agency said it had "received formal notification" from Iran of the crash which occurred on Wednesday.
The plane, a US-made Boeing 737, went down minutes after takeoff from Tehran's Imam Khomeini International Airport, after Iran launched ballistic missiles at American military targets in Iraq in retaliation for the Jan 3 US drone strike in Baghdad that killed top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani.
"The NTSB has designated an accredited representative to the investigation of the crash," said the US agency which probes transport accidents.
"The NTSB continues to monitor the situation surrounding the crash and evaluate its level of participation in the investigation," which will be led by Iran, the statement said.
"As with any investigation in which the NTSB is involved, the agency will not speculate about the cause of the crash."
"The NTSB has replied to our chief investigator and has announced an accredited representative," Farhad Parvaresh, Iran's representative at the International Civil Aviation Organization, part of the United Nations, told Reuters.
Canada, which had dozens of passengers onboard, has also assigned an expert, while a team from Ukraine held discussions in Tehran on Thursday, Parvaresh said in a telephone interview.
Iran is ready to provide consular facilities and visas for accredited investigators, he added.
Sweden and Afghanistan, which had some passengers on board, have also been notified. France may also be involved as it was one of the countries where the engines are made, Parvaresh said.
He denied US and Canadian claims that the jet had been shot down and said Iran was committed to a full and transparent investigation for the accident, adding it was too early to speculate on the cause.
"As Iranians we feel this tragedy and disaster for us and for the families," Parvaresh said, expressing condolences to the relatives of all 176 people who died when the Ukraine International Airlines jet crashed on Wednesday.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said earlier the jet was probably brought down by an accidental Iranian missile strike, citing intelligence from Canadian and other sources.
The US government believes Iran shot down the plane by mistake, three US officials told Reuters.
Parvaresh said expert testimony indicated that the aircraft could not have been hit by a missile and that it was important to keep the crash investigation non-political.
"I think we should keep this purely technical and not confuse it with political tensions in the region. We should leave it to experts to investigate and make their report," he said.