Lest we forget one reason why the Iranians are not running to the bargaining table . . .
Iran Air Flight 655 was an Iran Air flight from Tehran, Iran, to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, via Bandar Abbas, Iran. On 3 July 1988, at the end of the Iran–Iraq War, the aircraft serving the flight, an Airbus A300B2-203, was shot down by SM-2MR surface-to-air missiles fired by the United States Navy guided missile cruiser USS Vincennes as it flew over the Strait of Hormuz. The aircraft, which had been flying in Iranian airspace over Iran’s territorial waters in the Persian Gulf on its usual flight path, was destroyed. All 290 on board, including 66 children and 16 crew, perished. Ranking seventh among the deadliest disasters in aviation history, the incident retains the highest death toll of any aviation incident in the Indian Ocean and the highest death toll of any incident involving an Airbus A300 anywhere in the world. The Vincennes had entered Iranian territorial waters after one of its helicopters drew warning fire from Iranian speedboats operating within Iranian territorial limits.
According to the United States Government, the crew incorrectly identified the Iranian Airbus A300 as an attacking F-14 Tomcat fighter (a plane made in the United States and operated at that time by only two forces worldwide, the United States Navy and the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force). Contributing to the error was the fact that the airliner did not respond to several inquiries to change course and did not identify itself clearly as civilian. This was because Vincennes was signaling warnings on a military channel and the civilian plane could not technically receive it. The Iranian government maintains that Vincennes negligently shot down the civilian aircraft. The event generated a great deal of controversy and criticism of the United States. Some analysts have blamed U.S. military commanders and the captain of Vincennes for reckless and aggressive behavior in a tense and dangerous environment.
In 1996, the United States and Iran reached “an agreement in full and final settlement of all disputes, differences, claims, counterclaims” relating to the incident at the International Court of Justice. As part of the settlement, the United States agreed to pay US$61.8 million, an average of $213,103.45 per passenger, in compensation to the families of the Iranian victims. However, the United States has never admitted responsibility, nor apologized to Iran.
As of January 2012, Iran Air was still using flight number IR655 on the Tehran–Dubai route as a memorial to the victims, contrary to the informal convention amongst many other airlines that discontinue flight numbers associated with accidents. The U.S. government never paid Iran Air for the material damage of their destroyed airplane, that at the time had a value of 30 million dollars.