Anderson Cooper Says Ukrainian Boeing Plane Crash Near Tehran Could Be Linked to 'Military Activity in Iran'

On Wednesday's Anderson Cooper 360, the show's titular host said there was "obviously either a coincidence" or there was "some linkage" between the crash of Ukraine International Flight 752 in Tehran and ongoing military activity in the area.

Maria Schiaro, CNN aviation analyst and attorney for families of victims of transportation accidents, was Cooper's guest on the program. Schiaro noted that the plane had fine climb, good ground speed and good altitude before it was engulfed. Cooper noted there was no mayday call, and that the airport was a difficult for one to fly in and out.

"The fact that there was military activity in Iran, and, you know, the missile attacks into Iraq, it's obviously either a coincidence or there is some linkage there in some way," Cooper said to the guest.

"Well, statistically speaking, when an airplane literally explodes in the sky, when you have an in-flight breakup, especially with a fire, statistically, it has usually been a missile, a bomb, or an explosion. But there are a few notable exceptions—TWA-800 back in 1996 was a center fuel tank explosion. And Chalk's Ocean Airways [Flight 101] was a wing coming off. And there is a directive on this plane for the wing attachment. So there are notable exceptions for mechanical failures, but usually it has been explosion, bomb, missile when a plane falls from the sky."

"And you know, as always we talk about the black boxes." Cooper said, noting that the Iranian government has said they will not turn over the black boxes from the flight and won't work with Boeing or the Ukrainian government. "One can read that as there's nefarious reasons for that, or distrust in other political reasons."

"Or unfamiliarity with how an Annex 13 International Civil Aviation Organization investigation really works. And that is that you deliver the black boxes, securely and safely," said Schiaro. She pointed out that the black boxes go to labs—and that the best labs for examining them exist in areas Iran might not be willing to work with, such as Great Britain or Australia.

Anderson Cooper
Anderson Cooper stated on Wednesday's Anderson Cooper 360 that the crash of a Ukrainian flight in Tehran might be connected to "military activity in Iran." J. Countess/Getty

The plane, on its way to Kyiv from Tehran, became engulfed in flames and crashed soon after take-off. All 176 people on board were killed.

Contradictory statements have emerged from Ukraine in the wake of the disaster, which Schiaro noted.

While the Ukrainian embassy in Tehran initially posted on its website that terrorism or a rocket attack had been ruled out in the crash, the statement was removed from the embassy's website within hours. The statement which took its place said that no conclusion had been made in the plane's crash.

"All possible versions of what occurred must be examined," President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in a Facebook post Wednesday.

"They are spreading propaganda that the Ukrainian flight was targeted," Brigadier General Abolfazl Shekarchi, senior spokesman for the Iranian military, is quoted as saying, as translated by The New York Times. "This is ridiculous. Most of the passengers on this flight were our valued young Iranian men and women. Whatever we do, we do it for the protection and defense of our country and our people."