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Iran claims to have sent second monkey into space (VIDEO)

A monkey named "Auspicious" has been sent 72 miles into space and then safely returned to Earth, Iran claims.

Iran space monkey fake 02 01 2013Enlarge
An Iranian scientist holds a live monkey at an unknown location on January 28, 2013, which Iranian news agencies said returned alive after it traveled in a capsule to an altitude of 120 kilometres (75 miles) for a sub-orbital flight. Iran took a "big step" towards sending astronauts into space by 2020, successfully launching a monkey above the Earth's atmosphere, Defence Minister Ahmad Vahidi told state television. (AFP/AFP/Getty Images)

Iran on Saturday claimed that it had sent yet another monkey into space, shooting the hapless primate 72 miles into the air and then returning it safely to earth. 

According to the Associated Press, the monkey — dubbed Fargam, or Auspicious — was shot into the stratosphere on the Pajohesh (Research) rocket, which is part of Iran's attempt to develop manned space flight.

More from GlobalPost: Iran space monkey a fake? Skeptics say so (VIDEO)

According to the state-run IRNA news agency, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani "congratulated the Supreme Leader and noble Iranian nation on the success and wished Iranian scientists and researchers would go ahead with further progress."

Iran claims to have launched a monkey into space in January 2013, although experts remain distinctly suspicious about the truth of Iranian primate-launch claims — a different monkey appears to have been presented to the public as the victorious returnee. A September 2011 monkey launch attempt failed. 

US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said to CNN that although she'd viewed the pictures of what she called the "poor little monkey," she added that the US did not "have any way to confirm this (happened), one way or another."

"But our concerns with Iran's development of space launch vehicle technologies are obviously well-known: Any space launch vehicle capable of placing an object in orbit is directly relevant to the development of long-range ballistic missiles," she added. 

Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was a big booster of Iran's nascent space program, stating in February of 2013 that he was "ready to be the first Iranian to be sacrificed by the scientists of my country and go into space, even though I know there are a lot of candidates," per AFP. 

Here is video from Channel 4 News of the seemingly unharmed primate:

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/iran/131214/iran-claims-have-sent-second-monkey-space-video