DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran has successfully launched a live monkey into space, the state news agency IRNA said on Monday, touting it as an advance in a missile and space programme that has alarmed the West and Israel.
There was no independent confirmation of the report, which quoted a defence ministry statement. It said the launch coincided “with the days of” the Prophet Mohammad’s birthday last week but gave no date.
IRNA said the monkey was sent into space on a Kavoshgar rocket. The rocket reached a height of more than 120 km (75 miles) and “returned its shipment intact”, IRNA reported.
The Islamic Republic’s state-run, English-language Press TV said the monkey was retrieved alive.
Iran announced plans in 2011 to send a monkey into space, but that attempt was reported to have failed.
Western powers are concerned that the long-range ballistic technology used to propel Iranian satellites into orbit could be used to launch nuclear warheads. Tehran denies such suggestions and says its nuclear activity is for peaceful energy only.
Reporting by Yeganeh Torbati; Editing by Mark Heinrich