February 3, 2013

Monkeys in Space and Nuclear Weapons

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The Iranian media is reporting the successful launch of a monkey into space. Reaching a maximum height of 75 miles, the rocket safely returned the monkey to Earth at the conclusion of the test. Let the panic ensue.

The Iranian regime maintains that the space test was part of a plan to send satellites into space and was independent of the country’s nuclear program. The government asserts that Iran strives to develop nuclear energy for solely peaceful purposes. After all, Iran, like any other nation, has the right to advocate scientific and nuclear advancement that has the potential to improve the lives of its citizens.

The concern with this “monkeyed spacecraft” is that the triumph is significant milestone in the expansion of Iran’s space and nuclear weapons program. There are concerns that similar technology could be used to “extend the reach of Iran’s military weapons” and may allow Iran to develop the capability to produce long-range ballistic missiles. Furthermore, the construction of this type of technology is in violation of a U.N. Security Council resolution banning Iran from developing “ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons.”

However, it has been difficult to substantiate Iran’s claims that the monkey test was legitimate, and not an elaborate hoax constructed by the regime for political purposes. The monkey that was later honored at an Iranian press dinner, wearing a silk tuxedo, has been reported to be a different animal than the one used in the space test launch. Therefore, it is unclear whether or not the original monkey survived the launch test. Furthermore, the pictures published by the Iranian newspapers seem to have been digitally doctored to “cover a grounded missile that may have failed during the test.” The Iranian space program remains as enigmatic as ever.

As the Obama administration gears up for a second term, the issue of Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons will undoubtedly present a pressing foreign policy problem. Regardless of the success and legitimacy of this particular test launch, Iran has made significant strides toward nuclear armament in the last decade. Mitigating the proliferation of nuclear weapons has been a priority for every American administration since 1945. The issue is no less prevalent today, though fear of a nuclear holocaust has noticeably dissipated since the collapse of the Soviet Union.  Nonetheless, threats of nuclear conflict from countries like North Korea and Iran present serious causes for concern.

Original Author: Monica Sharma