Monkey tricks? Washington skeptical of Iran's simian space flight
COMBO - This combination of two photos obtained from the Iranian Students News Agency, ISNA, shows, left, an Iranian technician holding a monkey that Iran claims rode an Iranian rocket into space, in Tehran, Iran, Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013, and right, an undated image of an Iranian technician holding a monkey which had been prepared to ride an Iranian rocket into space, in an undisclosed location in Iran. One of two official packages of photos of Iran's famed simian space traveler released to media depicted the wrong monkey--with a distinctive mole over its right eye--but a senior Iranian space official confirmed Saturday that a primate really did fly into space and returned safely to Earth. (AP Photo/ ISNA, Borna Ghasemi, Mohammad Agah)
Photo by AP
WASHINGTON — The United States expressed doubt on Monday about Iran's claim that it safely returned a monkey from space, saying it is questionable that the monkey survived — or that the flight happened at all.
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said a lot of questions remained “about whether the monkey that they reportedly sent up into space and reportedly came down was actually the same monkey, whether he survived.” She noted, “The monkey that they showed later ... was missing a little wart.”
Tehran blamed the confusion on media for using a photo of a backup monkey. It insisted a monkey orbited and returned safely.
Jonathan McDowell, a Harvard astronomer, believes Iran's claim that the monkey space flight was real, and says the simian with the mole died during a failed space mission in 2011.
Washington worries the Iranian program may be cover for long-range missile development.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, meanwhile, volunteered to be his country's first astronaut, “I'm ready to ... go into space,” he said on Monday.
Nuland described Ahmadinejad's decision as an “interesting choice,” while Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., tweeted: “Wasn't he just there last week?”
When his tweet generated criticism, McCain told his followers, “Lighten up folks, can't everyone take a joke.”
But it wasn't funny to Michigan Rep. Justin Amash, a Republican, who tweeted, “Maybe you should wisen up & not make racist jokes.”
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments â either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.