State Department Concerned by Iranian Space Monkey Reports

Posted at: 01/28/2013 9:10 AM
Updated at: 01/28/2013 3:48 PM

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - One expert says Iran's latest rocket achievement is "nothing to get too excited about."

Iranian officials say they sent a monkey into space on an Iranian rocket today, and then returned the animal safely to Earth. It was described as a step toward Iran's goal of a manned space flight. But it also renewed concerns that advances in Iran's rocket expertise could help develop long-range weapons that might one day carry nuclear warheads.

The U.S. State Department says there's no way to confirm the monkey's voyage, but that it's concerned by the reports because the launch would be "directly relevant to the development of long-range ballistic missiles."

But John Logsden, a space policy professor emeritus at George Washington University, says the achievement should draw no concern. He says the Iranians "already had the capability to launch warheads in their region."

The purported voyage of the small monkey -- strapped into a pod resembling an infant's car seat -- would put Iran among just a handful of nations that have sent a primate into space.

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