Iran announced that it successfully sent a monkey into space on Monday by way of a Kavoshgar "Pishgam" rocket. Images of the monkey strapped to a harness were shown on Iranian TV and concern has arisen among animal rights activists and U.S. military officials along with other foreign countries.
Animal rights group PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) was "appalled" by the act and issued a statement. "We are appalled by photos of a visibly terrified monkey crudely strapped into a restraint device in which he was allegedly launched into space by the Iranian Space Agency. Monkeys are highly intelligent, sensitive animals who not only are traumatized by the violence and noise of a launch and landing, but also suffer when caged in a laboratory before and - if they survive - after a flight.", said PETA.
Officials from Iran said that the monkey was sent 120 kilometers above the Earth to which it then safely returned. U.S. officials say that if the monkey was truly launched into space, Iran has possibly violated a United Nations resolution. "Any space-launch vehicle capable of placing an object in orbit is directly relevant to the development of long-range ballistic missiles as well as SLV [satellite launch vehicle] technologies." said Victoria Nuland, a United States State Department spokeswoman. UN Security Council Resolution 1929 bars Iran from "any activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using ballistic missile technology." The launch of the monkey into space has sparked concern that Iran's space program is possibly being used by Iran as a means of developing long range missiles.
Iran said the success of sending the monkey into space was a peaceful mission and is viewing it as being a huge step towards someday sending a human into space. France also expressed concern about the space launch. "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," said Bruno Gruselle France's Foundation for Strategic Research.
Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi had announced the launch at a time the Islamic Republic along with other world powers make attempts to set up a time and place to resume talks about Iran's nuclear program.