Iran Claims to Fire Monkey Into Space

An Iranian Kavoshgar space rocket carried a monkey to an altitude of 75 miles before traveling back to the Earth with "its shipment intact," Reuters reported, citing a Monday update from the Islamic Republic News Agency.

The state media report did not specify the flight's timing, saying only that the launch took place "with the days of" the anniversary of the prophet Muhammad's birth last week. The press assertion drew from an Iranian Defense Ministry release.

The animal survived the flight and was returned to Iranian custody, Reuters quoted Iran's Press TV as saying.

A 2011 Iranian attempt to launch a monkey into orbit reportedly ended without success.

Iran's space program has drawn concerns from the global community, as technology used to place objects into orbit can also be applied to ballistic missiles. Worries on the nation's missile capabilities are twinned with suspicions that Tehran is operating a nuclear-weapon drive in the guise of a civilian program. Iran says its atomic activities have no military component.

"If you can show that you are able to protect a vehicle of this sort from re-entry, then you can probably protect a military warhead and make it survive the high temperatures and high pressures of re-entering," Foundation for Strategic Research senior research fellow Bruno Gruselle told Reuters.

The U.S. State Department on Monday voiced its concern over the reported space launch even as it said it could not confirm Tehran's assertions of a successful space launch and return trip by a primate. 

"Any space launch vehicle capable of placing an object in orbit is directly relevant to the development of long-range ballistic missiles," spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said during a daily press briefing. She emphasized that Iran is banned under U.N. Security Council Resolution 1929 from undertaking any activity related to high-altitude missiles capable of carrying nuclear weapons including any space launches that employ ballistic missile technology.

January 28, 2013
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An Iranian Kavoshgar space rocket carried a monkey to an altitude of 75 miles before traveling back to the Earth with "its shipment intact," Reuters reported, citing a Monday update from the Islamic Republic News Agency.

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