Iran: Space monkey next step in rocket program

June 27, 2011 - 1:45 PM

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran says it plans to send a monkey into space next month as the next step in a space program that Western leaders worry could also bring major advances in Iran's missile arsenal.

The state-run news agency IRNA quotes the head of Iran's space agency as saying Monday that five monkeys are undergoing tests and one will be selected for the flight on a Kavoshgar-5 — or Explorer-5 — rocket.

Last year, Iran announced it had launched a rocket carrying a mouse, turtle and worms into space.

The U.S. and allies are concerned that the technology in the space program could also be used to develop long-range missiles with possible nuclear warheads. Iran denies it seeks nuclear arms and says it wants only energy-producing reactors.