Flashback: Reagan on KAL 007 'We Want... To See That This Never Happens Again'

July 17, 2014 - 4:39 PM

On September 1st of 1983, Russia shot down Korean Air Lines Flight 007, a flight from New York City to Seoul with a stop in Anchorage, Alaska.

After departing Alaska the plane crossed into Russian airspace and was shot down. All 269 passengers on board were killed.

The incident created one of the more memorable tense moments of the Cold War.

President Ronald Reagan addressed the nation on September 5th saying,  “Let me state as plainly as I can: There was absolutely no justification, either legal or moral, for what the Soviets did. One newspaper in India said, "If every passenger plane…is fair game for home air forces…it will be the end to civil aviation as we know it.''

"This is not the first time the Soviet Union has shot at and hit a civilian airliner when it over-flew its territory. In another tragic incident in 1978, the Soviets also shot down an unarmed civilian airliner after having positively identified it as such."

“It was an act of barbarism, born of a society which wantonly disregards individual rights and the value of human life and seeks constantly to expand and dominate other nations,” Reagan later added.

“With our horror and our sorrow, there is a righteous and terrible anger. It would be easy to think in terms of vengeance, but that is not a proper answer. We want justice and action to see that this never happens again.”