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

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Video Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

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.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid