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U.S. Questions Iran 'Monkey Launch'

Iran says this monkey was launched to the edge of space. No name for the primate has been given.
The United States says Iran may have violated a United Nations resolution if its claims of successfully launching a live monkey to the edge of space are true.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said she could not confirm whether the Iranian launch had actually occurred.

"We don't have any way to confirm this one way or other with regard to the primate, but our concern with Iran's development of space-launch vehicle technologies are, obviously, well-known," Nuland said.

"Any space-launch vehicle capable of placing an object in orbit is directly relevant to the development of long-range ballistic missiles as well as SLV [satellite launch vehicle] technologies."

She added that UN Security Council Resolution 1929 bars Iran from “any activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using ballistic missile technology.”

Iranian officials said on January 28 that the country had sent a monkey 120 kilometers above Earth aboard a rocket, and the animal returned safely. Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi said Iran had taken a big step toward sending a human to space by launching the monkey in a sub-orbital flight aboard a Kavoshgar rocket.

Iran announced plans in 2011 to send a monkey to space, but that attempt apparently fell short.

An independent confirmation of the claim was not available.

Proposed Nuke Talks

The Iranian launch was announced as the Islamic republic and world powers continued to wrangle over a date and venue to resume talks over Iran’s nuclear program.

Iran has been hit with multiple rounds of sanctions by the UN Security Council and Western nations. Tehran denies any effort to make a nuclear weapon, saying its atomic program is for peaceful purposes only.

The European Union criticized Iran for rejecting an offer to hold fresh nuclear talks this week in Istanbul.

Michael Mann, a spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, said January 28 the EU was “disappointed” with Iran and had offered new dates for talks in February.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the postponement of talks was “absolutely dissatisfactory.”

State Department spokeswoman Nuland called on Iran to cooperate and return to negotiations.

"We don't have any particular preconditions on place or time or venue, but we do not seem to be getting much help from Iran in coming to closure on this," Nuland said.

Several rounds of talks in 2012, including in Moscow and Istanbul, failed to result in a breakthrough over Iran’s uranium enrichment program. Enrichment is a process that can be used for the development of nuclear weapons.

The talks bring together Iran and six world powers -- Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia, and the United States.

Based on reports from Reuters, AP, and AFP
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