Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko says Kiev has received "full cooperation" from Iran which has allowed its 50 experts access to black box flight recorders of the crashed Ukrainian plane.

The crate containing purportedly the two black boxes recovered from the crashed Ukrainian airliner, Boeing 737-800, is seen in this still image taken from a video, in Tehran, Iran January 10, 2020.
The crate containing purportedly the two black boxes recovered from the crashed Ukrainian airliner, Boeing 737-800, is seen in this still image taken from a video, in Tehran, Iran January 10, 2020. (IRIB VIA WANA/Handout / Reuters)

Ukrainian experts have been given access to the black box flight recorders of the Ukrainian plane that crashed in Iran, Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko said on Friday, adding that they were receiving "full cooperation" from the Iranian authorities.

Kiev sent around 50 experts to Iran to take part in the probe after the Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737 went down near Tehran on Wednesday, killing all 176 people on board.

"Our team has now got access to the black boxes," Prystaiko told a briefing.

The Ukrainian experts had also been given access to the plane's fragments and the crash site, Prystaiko said. 

The Ukrainian team plans to start analysing the recorders' content, he said.

Prystaiko also said that the Ukrainian team had been granted access to the recordings of the radio exchange between the pilots and traffic control.

"Conclusions –– as soon as they are made –– will be presented to the public," he said.

He said the plane's fragments had been scattered over a wide area including "certain settlements."

'International coalition' for probe

The plane crashed shortly after Iran launched missiles at US forces in Iraq in response to the killing of a top Iranian general in a US drone strike in Baghdad.

Prystaiko addressed reporters after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky spoke by phone with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and after US officials handed Kiev "important" information about the crash earlier Friday.

American, British and Canadian officials say intelligence sources indicate that Iran shot down the plane, perhaps unintentionally, but this has been denied by Tehran.

Zelensky said on Facebook that the possibility the plane had been shot down by a missile was not ruled out "but it has not yet been confirmed".

Speaking to reporters, Prystaiko also stressed that all possibilities were under consideration.

"We are not rejecting any of the leads, all leads are being considered," he said.

"Our main task is to find the reasons for this tragedy in an absolutely just and unbiased manner," he said.

"To find who is guilty if someone is guilty.

"But of course if we prove that this plane has been shot down we will, of course, demand that the guilty be brought to justice but also compensation."

Ukraine's top diplomat refused to say what kind of information Kiev had received from the West. "This is secret information," he said.

He added that Ukraine wanted to see the creation of an "international coalition" that would oversee the crash probe.

Also on Friday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States believes it is "likely" that an Iranian missile downed a Ukrainian airliner.

"We do believe it's likely that plane was shot down by an Iranian missile. We are going to let the investigation play out before we make a final determination."

READ MORE: The deadly Tor missile system suspected of bringing down Ukraine Boeing

Iran denies allegations

Earlier on Friday Iran denied Western allegations that one of its own missiles downed a Ukrainian Boeing that crashed outside Tehran. Iranian officials called on the US and Canada to share any information they have on the crash.

US, Canadian and UK leaders said the plane appeared to have been unintentionally hit by a surface-to-air missile just hours after Iran launched around a dozen ballistic missiles at two US bases in Iraq to avenge the killing of its top general in an American airstrike last week.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, citing intelligence from Canada and other sources, has also blamed an Iranian missile for bringing down the plane that had 63 Canadians on board, although he said it "may well have been unintentional".

"The evidence indicates that the plane was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile," he said.

“What is obvious for us, and what we can say with certainty, is that no missile hit the plane,” Ali Abedzadeh, head of Iran Civil Aviation Organisation, told a press conference.

“If they are really sure, they should come and show their findings to the world" in accordance with international standards, he added.

Extracting data from flight recorders

Hassan Rezaeifar, the head of the Iranian investigation team, said recovering data from the two 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.

"We prefer to download the black boxes in Iran. But if we see that we can't do that because the boxes are damaged, then we will seek help," Abedzadeh said.

State television earlier showed the battered black boxes, saying their information could be downloaded and analysed.

If it needed help, Iran said it could ask Russia, Canada, France or Ukraine.

Ukraine said it could not rule out a missile strike but this had not been confirmed. 

The Ukraine International Airlines flight to Kiev from Tehran crashed on Wednesday when Iran was on alert for a US military response hours after firing missiles at US targets in Iraq. 

The incident adds to international pressure on Iran, after months of tension with the United States and then tit-for-tat military strikes.

Washington killed an Iranian general last week in a drone attack in Iraq, prompting Tehran's missile launches.

On social media, ordinary Iranians voiced anger at authorities for not closing the airport after Iran's missile launches. Many passengers were Iranians with dual nationality.

READ MORE: Trump says no Americans harmed in Iran missile attack -latest updates

This map shows the sites Iranian missiles hit in Iraq, the area where Ukraine International Airlines flight took off in Tehran before it crashed and where some of the crash debris landed in Parand.
This map shows the sites Iranian missiles hit in Iraq, the area where Ukraine International Airlines flight took off in Tehran before it crashed and where some of the crash debris landed in Parand. (TRTWorld)

Expanding the investigation 

A delegation from Canada was heading to Iran to help with the probe, the Iranian foreign ministry said on Friday.

"Based on the coordination between Iran and Canada's foreign ministries, a 10-person Canadian delegation is en route to Iran," the ministry said in a statement.

The team will "handle the affairs of the Canadian victims" who died in the crash.

The French air accident investigation authority said it has been invited by Iran to join the probe into this week's plane crash near Tehran.

The French authority known by its French acronym BEA in a Twitter post says it has designated an accredited representative to the investigation.

The plane's engine was designed by CFM International, a joint company between French group Safran and US group GE Aviation.

BEA helped analyse data from the flight recorder of a crashed Boeing plane in Ethiopia last year.

The US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said it had designated a representative to join the probe.

Boeing said it would support the NTSB. The company is still reeling from two deadly crashes of 737 MAX planes, including the one in Ethiopia, that led to the plane's grounding in March 2019.

US believes Iran military accidentally shot down airliner

A US official, citing satellite data, said Washington had concluded with a high degree of certainty that anti-aircraft missiles brought down the plane in error.

The official said the data showed the plane airborne for two minutes after departing Tehran when heat signatures of two surface-to-air missiles were detected.

There was an explosion in the vicinity and heat data showed the plane on fire as it fell. US military satellites detect infrared emissions from heat.

The New York Times said it had obtained a video appearing to show an Iranian missile hitting a plane near Tehran airport.

US President Donald Trump told reporters he did not believe the crash of the airliner was due to a mechanical issue, saying "somebody could have made a mistake - on the other side".

A defence expert said the plane's radar signature would have been similar to a US military transport plane.

"All those countries whose citizens were aboard the plane can send representatives and we urge Boeing to send its representative to join the process of investigating the black box," government spokesman Ali Rabiei said.

Early-gen Boeing

The three-year-old Boeing 737-800 had its last scheduled maintenance on Monday. 

Iran's initial investigation said the plane encountered a technical problem after take-off and was heading to a nearby airport before it crashed.

Iran said bodies and body parts recovered from the site of the crash were taken to the coroner's office for identification.

Ukraine has outlined four potential scenarios, including a missile strike and terrorism. 

Kiev said its investigators wanted to search the crash site for possible debris of a Russian-made missile Tor used by Iran's military.

The 737-800 that crashed was built in 2016 and is the prior generation of the 737 before the MAX. 

Source: TRTWorld and agencies