Iran proudly claimed this week that it sent a live monkey into space, but the claims may have been untrue.
According to a report in the British Telegraph on Friday, images from a press conference billed as a hero’s welcome for Iran’s first monkey astronaut suggest that the Islamic Republic had made up the story.
The monkey triumphantly presented to the nation’s media in his own silk tuxedo appeared markedly different to the creature that was picture strapped into a rocked prior to its launch into space, the Telegraph reported.
That animal had light fur and a distinctive red mole over its right eye. The monkey that returned, however, was dark haired and had no mole.
“It looks like a very different monkey, the nose, the features, everything is different,” Yariv Bash, founder and CEO of Space Israel, a nonprofit organization working to send an unmanned Israel space ship to the moon, told the Telegraph.
“This means that either the original monkey died from a heart attack after the rocket landed or that the experiment didn’t go that well,” he added.
Dismissing as remote the possibility that space flight had a dramatic physical affect on the Iranian monkey, international observers have concluded that either the original animal died in space or that the launch, timed to coincide with the 34th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, simply never took place.
On Monday, Iran claimed it had sent a capsule containing the live monkey into space and later retrieved the "shipment" intact. A previous attempt in 2011 by the Islamic Republic to put a monkey into space failed.
Tehran touted the experiment as a victory over the West, claiming that sending the monkey put it one step closer to manned space flights.
Iran's space program unsettles Western nations, which fear it could be used to develop ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads, currently being developed by the regime.
Iran has previously sent a rat, turtles and worms into space.
(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)