Ahmadinejad AFP photo

Iran on Monday sent a capsule containing a live monkey into space and later retrieved the "shipment" intact, the Tehran-based Arab-language Al-Alam channel said, quoting an official statement.

A previous attempt in 2011 by the Islamic Republic to put a monkey into space failed. No official explanation was given.

"Iran successfully launched a capsule, code named Pishgam (Pioneer), containing a monkey and recovered the shipment on the ground intact," said the statement by the defense ministry's aerospace department, as reported by AFP.

Al-Alam said the monkey was "alive" after travelling to an altitude of 120 kilometres (75 miles) for a sub-orbital flight.

Iran announced in mid-January it would try once more to send a monkey into orbit as part of "preparations for sending a man into space," which is scheduled for 2020.

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, according to AFP.

Tehran has repeatedly denied that its nuclear and scientific programs mask military ambitions, yet it also continues to reaffirm its commitment to the complete obliteration of the Jewish State.

In his most recent remarks, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Sunday that all Muslims should mobilize their resources to uproot Zionism.

“Under the circumstances that the corrupt, uncultured and murderous Zionists are occupying and killing oppressed people, we should not sit idly by,” Ahmadinejad was quoted by Press TV as saying.