News / Middle East

    Iran Claims to Launch Live Monkey into Space

    In this undated image taken from AP Television, scientists in Iran surround a monkey ahead of a space launch.In this undated image taken from AP Television, scientists in Iran surround a monkey ahead of a space launch.
    x
    In this undated image taken from AP Television, scientists in Iran surround a monkey ahead of a space launch.
    In this undated image taken from AP Television, scientists in Iran surround a monkey ahead of a space launch.
    Reuters
    Iran said on Monday it had launched a live monkey into space, seeking to show off missile delivery systems that are alarming to the West given Tehran's parallel advances in nuclear technology.
     
    The defense ministry announced the launch as world powers sought to agree a date and venue with Iran for resuming talks to resolve a nuclear standoff with the West before it degenerates into a new Middle East war.
     
    Efforts to nail down a new meeting have failed repeatedly and the powers fear Iran is exploiting the diplomatic vacuum to hone the means to produce nuclear weapons.
     
    The Islamic Republic denies seeking weapons capability and says it seeks only electricity from its uranium enrichment so it can export more of its oil wealth.
     
    The powers have proposed new talks in February, a spokesman for the European Union's foreign policy chief said on Monday, hours after Russia urged all concerned to "stop behaving like children" and commit to a meeting.
     
    Iran earlier in the day denied media reports of a major explosion at one of its most sensitive, underground enrichment plants, describing them as Western propaganda designed to influence the nuclear talks.
     
    A defense ministry said the space launch of the monkey coincided ``with the days of'' the Prophet Mohammad's birthday, which was last week, but gave no date, according to a statement carried by the official news agency IRNA.
     
    The launch was "another giant step" in space technology and biological research "which is the monopoly of a few countries," the statement said.
     
    The monkey was sent up in a Kavoshgar rocket dubbed "Pishgam" (Pioneer), reaching a height of more than 120 km (75 miles), IRNA said.
     
    "This shipment returned safely to Earth with the anticipated speed along with the live organism," Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi told the semi-official Fars news agency. "The launch of Kavoshgar and its retrieval is the first step towards sending humans into space in the next phase."
     
    Iran's English-language Press TV displayed photographs of the monkey inside its capsule, but did not say if these were from before or after the launch.
     
    There was no independent confirmation of the launch.
     
    Significant
     
    The West worries that long-range ballistic technology used to propel Iranian satellites into orbit could be put to delivering nuclear warheads.
     
    Bruno Gruselle of France's Foundation for Strategic Research said that if the monkey launch report were true it would suggest a "quite significant" engineering feat by Iran.
     
    "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," Gruselle said.
     
    The monkey launch would be similar to sending up a satellite weighing some 2,000 kg (4,400 pounds), he said. Success would suggest a capacity to deploy a surface-to-surface missile with a range of a few thousand kilometers (miles).
     
    The Islamic Republic announced plans in 2011 to send a monkey into space, but that attempt was reported to have failed.
     
    Nuclear-weapons capability requires three components - enough fissile material such as highly enriched uranium, a reliable weapons device miniaturized to fit into a missile cone, and an effective delivery system, such as a ballistic missile that can grow out of a space launch program.
     
    Iran's efforts to develop and test ballistic missiles and build a space launch capability have contributed to Israeli calls for pre-emptive strikes on Iranian nuclear sites and   billions of dollars of U.S. ballistic missile defense spending.
     
    Maneuvering Over Next Talks
     
    A spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said the powers had offered a February meeting to Iran, after a proposal to meet at the end of January was refused.
     
    "Iran did not accept our offer to go to Istanbul on Jan. 28 and 29 and so we have offered new dates in February. We have continued to offer dates since December. We are disappointed the Iranians have not yet agreed," Michael Mann reporters.
     
    He said Iranian negotiators had imposed new conditions for resuming talks and that EU powers were concerned this might be a stalling tactic. The last in a sporadic series of fruitless talks was held last June.
     
    Iranian officials deny blame for the delays and say Western countries squandered opportunities for meetings by waiting until after the U.S. presidential election in November.
     
    "We have always said that we are ready to negotiate until a result is reached and we have never broken off discussions," IRNA quoted Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi as saying.
     
    Salehi has suggested holding the next round in Cairo but that the powers wanted another venue. He also said that Sweden, Kazakhstan and Switzerland had offered to host the talks.
     
    In Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told a news conference: "We are ready to meet at any location as soon as possible. We believe the essence of our talks is far more important (than the site), and we hope that common sense will prevail and we will stop behaving like little children."
     
    Ashton is overseeing diplomatic contacts on behalf of the powers hoping to persuade Tehran to stop higher-grade uranium enrichment and accept stricter U.N. inspections in return for civilian nuclear cooperation and relief from U.N. sanctions.
     
    Iran Denies Fordow Blast
     
    Reuters has been unable to verify reports since Friday of an explosion early last week at the underground Fordow bunker, near the holy Shi'ite Muslim city of Qom, that some Israeli and Western media said wrought heavy damage.
     
    "The false news of an explosion at Fordow is Western propaganda ahead of nuclear negotiations to influence their process and outcome," IRNA quoted deputy Iranian nuclear energy agency chief Saeed Shamseddin Bar Broudi as saying.
     
    In late 2011 the plant at Fordow began producing uranium enriched to 20 percent fissile purity, well above the 3.5 percent level normally needed for nuclear power stations.
     
    Western governments say the higher-grade enrichment marks a notable step towards weapons-grade uranium, even though it is below the 90 percent level suitable for nuclear bombs.
     
    Iran says its enhanced enrichment is to make fuel for a Tehran research reactor that produces isotopes for medical care.
     
    Diplomats in Vienna, where the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency is based, said on Monday they had no knowledge of any incident at Fordow but were looking into the reports. One Western diplomat said he did not believe them to be correct.
     
    The U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency, which regularly inspects Iranian nuclear sites including Fordow, had no immediate comment.
     
    Iran has accused Israel and the United States of trying to sabotage its nuclear program with cyber-attacks and assassinations of its nuclear scientists. Washington has denied any role in the killings while Israel has declined to comment.
     

    You May Like

    Leaving Scalia Replacement to 2017 Would Mean Unusually Long Vacancy

    History of high court shows Obama not in unique situation during final year of presidency

    US Fact Checkers Debunk Some Republican Candidate Claims 

    Slim evidence for several claims made by Republican presidential candidates at their last debate ahead of next Saturday's key nominating election in South Carolina

    Uganda Presidential Debate a Small Victory for Democracy

    In homes and bars across country, Ugandans were fixated on their screens as eight political candidates running for president took part in national debate

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Omid
    January 30, 2013 3:46 PM
    By such outdated scientific show offs they want to prepare more ground for producing mass destruction weapons and cover up the disastrous economic condition of Iran.

    by: mehran from: india
    January 29, 2013 1:37 PM
    the power countries should help and encourage the scientist around the world for improvement. together we are stronger.

    by: Anonymous
    January 29, 2013 9:30 AM
    USA and Israel can have nuclear weapons but Iran can not. How fair do you think it is?
    In Response

    by: Anonymous
    January 30, 2013 6:08 AM
    Here is how it works... Russia, China, USA have lots and lots of these weapons. More than they would ever need. World leaders want peace, they don't want more arms races going on. There is enough countries that have them that shouldn't already. The world needs to start getting rid of them if anything. I don't know why Iran wouldn't just negotiate. North Korea is another country, same problem.... The world does NOT need nuclear proliferation.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Ugandai
    X
    Serginho Roosblad
    February 12, 2016 9:29 PM
    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video Refugees in Kenya Vie to Compete in Rio Olympics

    In Kenya, refugees from other African nations are training at a special camp and competing for a limited number of slots in this year's Rio Olympics under the flag of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Ngong, this is a first in Olympic history.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.