Iran Launches Mice and Turtles in Space

Iran hailed the successful launch of a home-built satellite on Wednesday amid Western concerns it is using its nuclear and space industries to develop atomic and ballistic weapons.

The Kavoshgar 3 (Explorer) rocket was carrying an "experimental capsule", state-owned Al-Alam television reported.

State television's website said it was carrying "live animals" -- a rat, turtles and worms, the first such experiment by Iran in space technology, AFP reports.

According to Press TV, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad calls for national celebration as Iranian scientists launch the country's third satellite carrier into space with living organisms aboard.

"Projects that we inaugurated are mostly on the very edge of modern technology… each one of them call for a national celebration," Ahmadinejad said on Wednesday, while addressing a gathering of scientists and state officials. "Those individuals whose contributions have made all this possible deserve praise," he added.

The ceremony was held to mark the test-firing of the Kavoshgar 3 (Explorer 3) satellite carrier, which has the ability to transmit telemetric data, live pictures and voyage analysis information.

After months of unsuccessful diplomatic overtures, the Obama administration is seeking broad international support for sanctions against the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, which Western nations say control a covert nuclear arms program. Tehran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only.

President Obama spoke of the shift in his State of the Union address, warning of "consequences" if Iran continued to defy United Nations demands to stop manufacturing nuclear fuel. Last Friday, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton publicly warned China that its opposition to sanctions against Iran was shortsighted, New York Times informs.

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