Iran’s President Rouhani Threatened to Resign Over Airliner Shootdown

Rouhani wasn't told the truth for days

In the days immediately following Iran’s accidental shootdown of a Ukrainian passenger airliner, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani struggled to get answers about what happened, with the military deflecting questions.

When military officials finally informed Rouhani, he was livid, and when they argued that Iran should keep the matter a secret, he threatened to resign outright. It was only after Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei sided with Rouhani that Iran went public with the facts of the incident.

Iran had made much of the US shootdown of Iran Air Flight 655 in 1988, and the US refusal to apologize, making Iran’s response a big deal to contrast with them. Not going public was simply not an option, many believe, and even doing so a few days late caused some protests.

The Iranian government was quick to apologize for the incident, not just to Ukraine and the victims, but also to the Iranian people. It could’ve been much different if the military was able to convince everyone else to keep quiet, and domestic outrage probably would’ve been far worse.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of