Iran successfully launched a live monkey into space last week, the government said today.
There is no independent confirmation of the achievement and there have been no announcements by Western powers of any Iranian launch late last week. The monkey was said to have returned "intact", an achievement the Iranians celebrated as an advance in a missile and space programme that has given the West and Israel cause for concern.
The monkey was said to have been sent up in a Kavoshgar rocket that climbed to a height of more than 75 miles before returning. In 2011, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad unveiled the space capsule designed to carry the live monkey into space but that attempt was reported to have failed.
At the time, Fazeli touted the launch of a large animal into space as the first step towards sending a man into space, which Tehran says is scheduled for 2020. Iran sent small animals into space - a rat, turtles and worms - aboard its Kavoshgar-3 rocket in 2010.
"Proof": An image grab from Al-Alam TV shows the Iranian flag at an unknown location flying on front of a capsule allegedly containing a live monkey which the Tehran-based channel said they sent up into space
Iran's decade-long space programme has raised alarms in the West because the same technology that allows missiles to launch satellites can be used to fire warheads. Israel, the US and others claims that Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons but the country's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, denies that. Tehran maintains that its nuclear work is nothing but peaceful.