22 years later, no apology for IR655

Twenty two years ago, 290 Iranian civilians were killed by an American navy ship, an incident the US has refused to apologize for.

As US President Barack Obama issues new sanctions against Iran, he offers these words of encouragement to the Iranian people:

"In Iran and around the world, the United States of America will continue to stand with those who seek justice and progress and the human rights and dignity of all people."

At the height of the Iran-Iraq war, the USS Vincennes in the Strait of Hormuz blew up Iranian airliner 655, killing all 290 citizens on board, including nearly 70 children. At the time of the deadly incident, the US Navy said it was a case of mistaken identity and believed the plane to be an F-14 fighter jet, the same ones the US sold to the Shah of Iran just ten years earlier.

“The bold face lies about the plane was descending, it was approaching an altitude where it was prepared to attack the ship. If it was flying at that low of an altitude, it clearly would have been seen for what it was, not an F-14,” says Iranian-American Navid Nasr, who refers back to the initial investigation.

It absolutely was a cover, but even the cover-up itself was denied, not only the fact that a mistake happened, but the fact that a cover-up happened to cover-up the mistake was also denied

Like millions of Iranians around the world, Navid will mark July 3rd as a day of mourning.

"We are showing the Iranian government that its actions have consequences. And if it persists, the pressure will continue to mount, and its isolation will continue to deepen," said President Obama during the announcement of new Iranian sanctions.


USS Vincennes

The charred bodies of Iranians civilians floating in Iranian waters did not evoke the same reaction when the Lockerbie bombing occurred just five months after the IR 655 incident.

Years later, the US expressed deep disgust when the Lockerbie bomber was released.

Referring to convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi in August of 2009, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said, “The images we saw in Libya were outrageous and disgusting."

Speaking on the US reaction to the downing of IR 655, then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under Ronald Reagan, Admiral William J.Crowe, Jr. said, "I believe given the operating environment, Captain Rogers did exactly what was expected of him in defense of his ship and crew."

In response Navid said, “When you look for example at the very different response to the Lockerbie incident as opposed to this incident, it’s clear that the lives of some people are inherently of greater value then the lives of other people. It’s sad and it’s unfortunate, but it’s true"

The crew of the USS Vincennes was later awarded combat action medals and the captain of ship was awarded the Legion of Merit medal. No one from the USS Vincennes was ever penalized for taking down the plane.

The cover-up, the medals, it just speaks to a large mentality that is at play here, which is not only can we [US] do no wrong, but all of our actions are inherently right,” said Nasr.

The US later settled the case with the Iranians with $131 million dollars compared to the near 3 billion Libya paid the United States for the Lockerbie Bombing.

RT contacted the Department of Defense to inquire about why an apology was never issued. The DoD sent us to the Navy, the Navy sent us to the Department of State and then the State department finally sent us back to the DoD. We never received a response as to why the US refuses to issue an apologize for the incident.

The fact that former President George H. W Bush said that for example, I will never apologize for the US no matter what the facts are. It’s not about apologizing for the US, it’s a matter of admitting a simple wrong-doing,” said Nasr.

And so as the US gears up to celebrate their Independence Day on the fourth of July, the Islamic Republic of Iran will be mourning 22 years since the US Navy killed nearly 300 of their people.


Cyrus Safdari , an independent analyst and blogger for IranAffairs.com said that this past incident is just another example of American hypocrisy and its double standard on Iran.

Safdari argued that the Iranian sanctions are also an example of this continuing double standard.

His [Obama] statements that Iran needs to play by the international rules, he doesn’t specify what rules because Iran is not in violation of any rules. Iran has the perfect right to enrich uranium in accordance with the terms of the nonproliferation treaty and in fact Iran’s nuclear program started with the assistance of the United States. It is not an illegal or violative program,” said Safdari.

Safdari said that most Americans can barely find Iran on a map and that most have no idea that the IR655 incident even occurred.

Every day here we are bombarded by the latest Iran news; however this news is never placed in any kind of context which would allow it to be understood. Instead, it’s constant fear-mongering and scaremongering and as a result Americans may know what happened 20 minutes ago, but they don’t remember what happened two years ago,” said Safdari.