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Iran Confirms Russian-Made Missiles Downed Ukraine Plane

Iran had purchased the missiles from Russia as part of a $700 million contract.  Ebrahim Noroozi / AP / TASS

Iran has confirmed that it used two Russian-made missiles in the downing of a Ukrainian airliner earlier this month, according to the country’s latest investigation report cited by Bloomberg.

All 176 people died onboard the Kiev-bound Ukrainian International Airlines flight when it crashed six minutes after taking off from Tehran on Jan. 8. Iran has admitted to shooting it down by mistake in the tense hours after it launched missiles at U.S. targets in Iraq in response to the killing of its general in Baghdad.

Two Tor-M1 short-range surface-to-air missiles were launched at the Boeing 737-800 from the north, Bloomberg cited Iran’s Civil Aviation Organization as saying in its second preliminary investigation report.

It said that the missiles had been launched minutes after the Ukrainian plane took off from Tehran, according to Reuters.

Russia in 2007 delivered 29 Tor-M1 surface-to-air missile systems to Iran as part of a $700 million contract. 

Tor missiles are guided by radar and fly at almost three times the speed of sound, meaning they will arrive within about five seconds if launched at a target five kilometers away, Reuters reported two weeks ago. 

They have a small warhead — about 15 kilograms of high explosive — but are designed to spray fragments of shredded metal, like bullets, into a target upon detonation.

The Tor is among the most modern air defense systems Iran has, according to Michael Duitsman, a research associate at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies.  

When Iran purchased them from Russia in the mid-2000s, "the capability was such that at the time the U.S. was concerned about the sale," Reuters quoted Duitsman as saying.

Reuters contributed reporting.

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