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

Multimedia US Defense Secretary: Iraqi Forces Lack 'Will to Fight'

Ash Carter criticizes Iraq's reaction to Islamic State; National Security Advisor Susan Rice echoed Carter's concerns in an interview on CBS More

Boko Haram Surrounds Havens With Land Mines

Chad and Cameroon say huge numbers of land mines planted by Boko Haram fighters along Cameroon's border with Nigeria are a danger to people, livestock and soldiers More

Women Peace Activists Cross Korean DMZ

Governments of Koreas give international delegation of women peace activists permission to pass through heavily fortified border, but some critics say symbolic crossing only benefits Pyongyang 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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs