herald

Thursday 23 January 2020

Shannon and Doonbeg are not on our target list, says Iran envoy

Donald Trump at Doonbeg. Photo: Mark Condren
Donald Trump at Doonbeg. Photo: Mark Condren
Footage appears to show a flash of light in the sky over Tehran before the plane crash. Photo: Nariman Gharib/AP

US President Donald Trump's Doonbeg Hotel and Shannon Airport are not being targeted for revenge attacks, the Iranian ambassador to Ireland has said.

Masoud Eslami made the remarks in the wake of the assassination by the US of Iran's Major General Qasem Soleimani last week.

Dr Eslami said Soleimani was held in the same esteem in Iran as Irish revolutionary hero Michael Collins is here.

He claimed Soleimani's assassination in Iraq was "outrageous state-sponsored terrorism" ordered by Mr Trump.

Dr Eslami initially said he would rule out any Iranian retaliation targeting Shannon Airport "for the time being" but later moved to offer further reassurance to clarify neither the airport nor Mr Trump's hotel in Co Clare are targets.

He said he could "absolutely" rule it out, adding: "I don't want to make a statement that brings worry or makes people worry about this but I can tell you that it is not in the interests of Iran.

"Iran is not speculating to target this kind of facilities."

He did urge the Irish Government "to reconsider the use of Shannon Airport to facilitate military action by the US, which has been an issue at local level, at national level in Ireland".

On the prospect of an attack on Mr Trump's hotel in Co Clare, he said: "It has not been intended… to threaten personal properties of Trump anywhere, and it is definitely not going to be the case in Ireland."

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The US has defended the killing of Soleimani, insisting it was aimed at preventing future attacks against its forces and that he was responsible for the deaths of more than 600 US soldiers through proxies during the war in Iraq.

Dr Eslami made a comparison between Soleimani and Michael Collins, saying it would allow a "glimpse of the sorrow tens of millions of people are feeling because of his loss".

He argued both men were "icons of resistance and bravery" in repelling foreign intervention.

Meanwhile, Iran yesterday denied Western allegations that one of its missiles downed a Ukrainian aeroplane which crashed outside Tehran, and called on the US and Canada to share any information they have on the crash, which killed all 176 people on board.

Western leaders said the plane appeared to have been unintentionally hit by a surface-to-air missile hours after Iran launched around a dozen ballistic missiles at two US bases in Iraq to avenge the killing of Soleimani.

"What is obvious for us, and what we can say with certainty, is that no missile hit the plane," said Ali Abedzadeh, head of Iran's national aviation department.

"If they are really sure, they should come and show their findings to the world."

Hassan Rezaeifar, the head of the Iranian investigation team, said recovering data from the black box flight recorders could take more than a month and that the entire investigation could stretch into next year.

He also said Iran may request help from international experts if it is not able to extract the flight recordings.

The ballistic missile attack on the bases in Iraq caused no casualties, raising hopes that the stand-off over the killing of Soleimani would end relatively peacefully, though Iran has sent mixed signals over whether its retaliation is complete.

If the US or Canada were to present incontrovertible evidence that the plane was shot down by Iran, even if unintentionally, it could have a dramatic impact on public opinion in Iran.

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