defense minister said Wednesday that his country has successfully launched a new rocket carrying a mouse, turtles and worms into space for research purposes.
State television broadcast images of the launch of the Kavoshgar-3, or Explorer-3, rocket on Wednesday. State TV also showed officials putting a mouse, two turtles and about a dozen creatures that looked like worms inside a capsule placed in the rocket before it blast off.
Gen. Ahmad Vahidi did not elaborate on the rocket or its research purposes.
A White House spokesman said later Wednesday that Iran's launch of a rocket capable of carrying a satellite was a "provocative act,"
Asked for a reaction to Iran's announcement, White House spokesman Bill Burton said the United States was still checking to see if the launch had taken place.
"A launch like that is obviously a provocative act," Burton told reporters. "But the president believes that it is not too late for Iran to do the right thing - come to the table with the international community and live up to its international obligations."
Over the past two years Iran has put two rockets into space carrying equipment that collected information on determining the path, pressure, wind and temperature and sent them back to earth.
Iranian media said earlier the Islamic Republic would on Wednesday unveil three new satellites and another satellite carrier, named Simorgh.
The reports said President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad attended an official presentation ceremony in Tehran. It coincides with a 10-day period of national events marking the 31st anniversary of the 1979 Islamic revolution.
Exactly one year ago, Iran launched a domestically made satellite into orbit for the first time. It has said the launch of the Omid satellite was for peaceful telecommunications and research purposes.
Iran, the world's fifth-largest oil exporter, says its nuclear program is solely to generate electricity, and Ahmadinejad said on Tuesday Iran was ready to send its enriched uranium abroad in exchange for nuclear fuel.
In December, Iran said it test-fired a long-range, upgraded Sejil 2 missile. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown at the time said the launch was of serious concern to the international community and underlined the case for tougher sanctions.
Reuters and AP contributed to the report