Iran May Have Lied About Successfully Sending a Monkey into Space and Back

Iran recently claimed to have sent a monkey into space, which supposedly returned to Earth unharmed in a successful mission. Now, serious doubt is being cast on Iran's claims. A number of publications have pointed out contradictory images that Iran offered as proof of the successful mission, and others quote both current and former scientists questioning whether Iran even has the know-how to achieve such a feat.

Inspection of the video and still images offered by Tehran suggests that the Iranians showed two different monkey. The monkey shown before the launch, strapped into a padded seat, looked to have light-colored fur and a red mole above its right eye. However, the monkey shown in a post-mission video wearing a tuxedo was dark-haired and had no mole above its eye.

These discrepensies have fueled speculation that the mission, whose coverage coincided with the 34th anniversary of the revolution that overthrew the Shah and imposed Islamic rule on Iran, was either unsuccessful, or never even happened at all.

According to the U.S. State Department, even they cannot confirm whether the Iranian launch actually took place. The State Dept. also noted that Iran is baned by United Nations Resolution 1929 from "any activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using ballistic missile technology."

Here's a link to "The Times" article that sets the monkey photos side-by-side.

Those discrepancies have kindled speculate that the mission -- whose coverage coincided with the 34th anniversary of the revolution that deposed the Shah and imposed Islamic rule on Iran -- was either unsuccessful or never even happened.

Some suggest that the monkey's space mission may be a cover for something else. James Oberg, a retired rocket scientist and NBC News space consultant, said:

"[The mission may just be a] fig leaf you put on a military program you want to disguise or you want to camouflage. It's murky."

If Iran is in fact lying about the success of the mission, if there even was a mission at all, it wouldn't be the first time that Iranian officials have lied about tests. In 2008, the media arm of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps supplied a picture to western news agencies that was doctored to have added another missile to the scene, supposedly for dramatic effect. In 2007, a photograph distributed by the Fars news agency was allegedly edited to place U.S. tags on ammunition and weapons found in Iran.