PARIS — In what seemed intended as a display of technological advance, Iran said on Wednesday that it had fired a rocket into space carrying living organisms — a rat, two turtles and worms, according to the state-run Press TV.
The test involved a rocket described as the Kavoshgar-3, which is capable of carrying satellites. Iran’s missile program has prompted worries among Western analysts that it is working on a weapons delivery system with broad regional consequences. In December, Iran said it test-fired an improved version of its most advanced missile, the Sejil-2, capable of reaching Israel and parts of Europe.
The Wednesday launching came a day after the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, suggested that his country would support an agreement to export low-enriched nuclear fuel, a deal put forth by the United States and other Western countries that seeks to head off a crisis over Iran’s nuclear program.
Mr. Ahmadinejad’s comments, which were reported by Press TV, appeared to contradict Iran’s rejection of the deal a few weeks ago, extending a series of ever-shifting public statements by Iran on the proposal. Diplomatic officials greeted Mr. Ahmadinejad’s remarks with skepticism.
Earlier, officials in Washington said the Obama administration was accelerating the deployment of new defenses against possible Iranian missile attacks in the Persian Gulf, placing special ships off the Iranian coast and antimissile systems in at least four Arab countries.
Press TV said Wednesday that the Kavoshgar, or Explorer, was the third of its type to be launched since February 2008 and was carrying an experimental capsule to transfer telemetric data, live pictures and other information to Earth. The model launched Wednesday was described as an updated version of the earlier rockets.
State television broadcast what it said were images of the Kavoshgar-3 hurtling from a desert launching pad, leaving a thick vapor trail. Before the launching, officials were shown putting what looked like living organisms inside a capsule placed in the rocket.
The Iranian Aerospace Organization said live video transmission from the latest launching would “enable further studies on the biological capsule” that was carrying the rat, turtles and worms, Press TV reported.
Also on Wednesday, Iran unveiled another satellite carrier, Simorgh-3, and three new domestically built satellites.
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 controls a covert nuclear arms program. Tehran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only.
President Obama, in his State of the Union address, warned 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.