Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad wants to go to space, according to reports, a move that would see him follow that of this terrified-looking monkey, which the Islamic Republic claimed it shot into space last week.
But Ahmadinejad doesn't sound scared, observed Britain's The Sun: "The bearded leader says he is ready for blast-off and will personally head his country's goal of manned space flight."
So it would seem, with Iran's semi-official Mehr news agency quoting Ahmadinejad as saying Monday:
"I am ready to be the first human to be sent to space by Iranian scientists."
"Sending living things into space is the result of Iranian efforts and the dedication of thousands of Iranian scientists," the Iranian leader announced while touring a space exhibit in Tehran, according to Mehr. He went on to warn of Western efforts to denigrate the country's technological advances, saying: “we should admit that some [powers] do not tolerate Iranian greatness and growth."
The US and many Western nations view Iran's scientific advances with suspicion, concerned that they may be a cover for nuclear activity. Iran maintains that both its nuclear program and its space program are for civilian purposes.
Another problem, according to Ahmadinejad, is that everyone's jealous: "Iranians ha[ve] incited devils’ hatred by Iranian idealism, perfectionism, and being human," he said, reported Mehr.
The president's remarks come amid growing opposition from various Iranian factions ahead of the country's June presidential election.
Seperately, the United States has raised doubts over Iran's monkey space launch, which it claimed last Monday, according to CBS News.