As nuclear talks continued in Vienna, Iran's Foreign Ministry on Thursday marked the 27th anniversary of the shooting down of an Iranian airliner by a U.S. warship in a statement designed to persuade neutral observers that Washington, not Tehran, is the untrustworthy party.
"The fatal attack laid bare Washington's unfounded claims of advocating human rights as well as its indifference to international regulations," the statement said, according to state-controlled Press TV.
All 290 people on board Iran Air Flight 655 were killed July 3, 1988, when the Dubai-bound airliner was shot down by missiles fired from the cruiser USS Vincennes shortly after takeoff from Bandar Abbas. An investigation revealed that the cruiser's crew mistook the airliner for an attacking Iranian F-14 fighter jet while involved in a confrontation with Iranian gunboats.
Though Washington never apologized or admitted wrongdoing, the U.S. government paid Iran $131.8 million in 1996 to settle a case before the International Court of Justice.
Iran's Shiite Muslim theocracy considers the incident a deliberate terrorist attack by the United States, and has used it to rebut claims from Washington that Tehran is a major global sponsor of terrorism.
It's also one of many past events, including the 1979 hostage crisis from the U.S. side, that have complicated the nuclear talks, particularly on the issue of sanctions. Tehran's lack of trust in the United States is a major driver of its demand for immediate lifting of international sanctions, and the U.S. lack of trust in Tehran underpins Washington's demand for phased relief.