If Neil Armstrong, the first person who stepped on the moon on that historic July 21, 1969, was still alive today, he would probably feel glad that his "one giant leap for mankind" has been bolstered no less than by man's primate ancestor, as Iran on Monday launched into space a monkey as part of its space plan programs. The monkey has successfully returned back to Earth.
On Monday, Iranian state television showed the country's space agency blasted into space an Iranian-built Kavoshgar 5 rocket with a monkey inside. The monkey was seen tightly strapped to what resembled like an infant's car seat and was wearing body protection.
However, Western space agency counterparts were worried Iran's recent foray could actually be a prelude to the latter's ambitious missile plan programs.
"We don't have any way to confirm this one way or the other with regard to the primate," Victoria Nuland, U.S. State Department spokeswoman, said in a press briefing in Washington on Monday. She did confirm though that she "saw the pictures of the poor little monkey preparing to go to space."
"Our concern with Iran's development of space-launch vehicle technologies are obviously well known," Ms Nuland said. "Any space-launch vehicle capable of placing an object in orbit is directly relevant to the development of long-range ballistic missiles."
"This success is the first step toward man conquering space, and it paves the way for other moves," Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi was quoted as saying by the AFP. He did confirm that soon Iran will blast a space rocket with actual or real astronauts, but the process "would be a lengthy one."
"This is a big step for our experts and scientists," Mr Vahidi said, adding the rocket that carried the space monkey went 120 km into orbit.
Should Iran make such space program progressions to include rockets and other potentially destructive armory, it would be violating a 1929 U.N. Security Council resolution wherein Iran is prohibited to "undertaking any act related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons."
Iran's space officials said the successful launch of the monkey into outer space is a prelude to plans of sending a human into space by 2020 and by 2025, an Iranian astronaut on the moon.