Iran repeated Wednesday charges that the US Navy deliberately shot down an Iranian airliner in 1988, two weeks ahead of the anniversary and amid allegations of Tehran's involvement in the Lockerbie bombing.
The US warship Vincennes destroyed the Airbus over the Gulf on July 3, 1988, killing 290 people aboard. Washington said there had been an error and compensated the families of the passengers but not Tehran, with which it has no diplomatic relations.
Rear-Admiral Mohammad Karim Tavakkoli, quoted by the state news agency IRNA, said Wednesday, "The destruction of the Iranian plane cannot be considered an error by the United States, but it demonstrates US hostility towards Iran."
Tavvakoli was speaking in the port city of Bandar Abbas, from which the Airbus had taken off on a flight to Dubai when it was hit by two missiles from the Vincennes.
He said the Vincennes was one of the most highly computerized ships in the world and could not have mistaken a civilian for a military plane.
"The USS Vincennes was in the region illegally with a precise aim, and acted with no consideration for the security of human lives."
While the ship's captain had resigned, Washington had obliged him to conceal his "criminal intent", Tavvakoli charged.
Iran has regularly accused the United States of shooting down the Airbus intentionally and organizes commemorative ceremonies on the anniversary every year.
But it strongly denied recent allegations by an Iranian claiming to have been involved in plotting the destruction five months later of a PanAm jumbo jet over Lockerbie, Scotland.
The Lockerbie bombing was alleged to have been staged in revenge for the downing of the Airbus - TEHRAN (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)