Declaring 'this crime against humanity must never be forgotten,' President Reagan Monday demanded an apology and compensation from Moscow for the downing of a civilian South Korean airliner carrying 269 people.
Reagan, in a nationally televised address from the White House, also suspended negotiations on several bilateral projects with the Soviet Union, and demanded approval for U.S. ships to participate in the search for wreckage of the 'Korean airline massacre.'
'There was absolutely no justification either legal or moral for what the Soviets did,' Reagan said.
'This crime against humanity must never be forgotten.'
The official Soviet media had no immediate reaction to Reagan's remarks, but earlier it claimed Washington 'prepared' the 'unprecedented accident' as part of a new 'Cold War.'
Reagan suspended negotiations on several proposed cultural and scientific exchanges and refused to renew a 10-year-old agreement on cooperation in the field of transportation.
He also asked U.S. allies to isolate the Soviet airline Aeroflot from commercial aviation and praised Canada for banning Aeroflot flights from Montreal for 60 days, effective Tuesday.
Calling Soviet accounts of the incident 'conflicting and misleading,' Reagan rejected Tass claims that Soviet pilots mistook Korean Air Lines flight 007, a Boeing 747, for a U.S. spy plane operating earlier Thursday in the north Pacific.
He said the U.S. reconaissance craft, an RC-135 'had been on the ground back at its base for an hour when the murderous attack took place.'
Reagan played a voice tape of the pilot of the Soviet Sukhoi Su-15 as it fired an air-to-air missile at the ill-fated Korean craft and said Moscow must recognize the 'incontrovertible evidence' and offer an apology to the world, compensation to the victims and act to avoid future tragedies.
'Compensation is an absolute moral duty the Soviets must assume,' Reagan said, adding the United States would 'seek reparations for the families of all those who were killed.'
Before Reagan's speech, Soviet Col. Gen. Semyon Romanov, air defense chief of staff, said Soviet pilots apparently mistook the Boeing 747 for the U.S. spy plane.
'The pilot might well have failed to see the function of the trespassing aircraft,' Romanov said in the closest comment Moscow has come to accepting blame for the loss of the plane.
Romanov did not mention the firing of any rockets, saying only there was a 'crash' involving 269 'victims of the Cold War,' including 61 Americans.
Officials in Washington said the RC-135 reconnaisance plane had flown within 75 miles of the ill-fated Korean plane but stayed outside Soviet air space along the fringes of Siberia.
The RC-135, a converted Boeing 717 that is roughly two-thirds the size of a Boeing 747, was 1,000 miles away, over international waters, when the Soviet Sukhoi Su-15 fired its missile at the KAL jet after tracking it for 2.5 hours near Soviet-held Sakhalin Island off northern Japan, U.S. officials said.
'The jetliner was flying with its lights out, and its profile is in many ways similar to that of the American RC-135 reconnaissance plane,' Romanov said.
'If one ponders on this unusual, frankly speaking, unprecedented accident, one arrives at the conclusion that its scenario was prepared in details beyond the ocean,' Romanov said, blaming Washington for the fate of the plane.
'It is there that the lives of numerous people were put at stake,' he said.
Reagan said Secretary of State George Shultz would confront Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromkyo Thursday at the European Security Conference in Madrid and detail the American demands.
Earlier, Shultz demanded the Kremlin to 'come clean' and tell the world the facts that led to the destruction of the Korean jet.
The search for the wreckage of the Boeing 747 continued for the fifth day Monday, with Japanese maritime officials reporting that ships had recovered debris from the area north of Moneron, a tiny island west of Sakhalin Island.
They said a piece of yarn, possible human hair, synthetic material and thermal insulation had been found. The debris was to be sent to Tokyo for test to determine if it came from the downed plane.
In Seoul, the government scheduled a memorial service expected to draw 85,000 people to a stadium Wednesday to honor the 269 victims. Throughout the nation, thousands of protesters condemned the attack at rallies.
Several hundred protestors in the South Korean capital burned an effigy of Soviet President Yuri Andropov.
Protests were held Monday across many nations of Asia, where a growing Soviet military presence has concerned government leaders.
In Thailand, demonstrators tossed eggs at the Soviet Embassy and in Indonesia's capital of Jakarta, Korean residents burned a Soviet flag and shouted anti-Soviet slogans.