The world's attention this week is firmly fixed on Iran, whose diplomats have finally agreed to meet with Western powers at Geneva's "P5+1" summit after a decade of wrangling over the country's development of nuclear weapons. Oh, and as if that's not enough, Iran is apparently sending a second monkey into space this month. (Even though a whole lot of people have pointed out that the "first" monkey they sent into space looks a whole lot different from the monkey that came back. But we'll return to that one later.)
The Geneva Summit kicks off Tuesday, and is nicknamed P5+1 because it involves the five members of the U.N. Security Council, plus Germany. At the summit, Iran is expected to make a compromise over their uranium-enrichment program, otherwise known as a wannabe nuclear program. It was launched in the 50s in partnership with the United States, but has significantly (and illegally) developed itself further since the 80s, and seen significant expansion in the last few years. Iran insists its nuclear program is completely peaceful. The Western world's response is along the lines of: "Yup, we don't trust you. Hand 'em over."
A brief history: Since 2006, Western powers have imposed economic sanctions due to Iran's utter refusal to said "hand 'em over," and Iran has refused to speak or compromise in response for a decade.
In August, Iran gained a new "moderate" president, Hassan Rouhani, who has already given President Obama a phone call, marking the first top-level diplomatic conversation between the two powers in 30 years. As a result, Rouhani has agreed to discuss the program with the U.N. Security Council, though analysts say that the summit has their work cut out for them: Iran is dead-set on enriching the uranium they already own, which could mean developing the uranium into a fully-blown nuclear weapon.
Western powers have a myriad of demands, too: they want a portion shipped straight to them for analysis, the halt of further production, and stockpiling of the uranium they've already enriched. Iran's deputy foreign minister has already nixed at least one demand saying "Shipping the material abroad is our red line."
But back to this whole monkey situation.
The Iranian Space Program tried to send a monkey into space in 2011. It failed, which is a nice way of saying the poor monkey died. In January this year, Iran claimed it had successfully sent a second monkey into space, meaning that this monkey apparently survived, but critics are wary: that original "space monkey" looked quite different from the one that apparently "returned," say skeptics. Now, the country's state media says that officials have apparently decided to send another monkey into orbit. There are a whole bunch of monkeys in a quarantine in Iran all prepared for this, apparently.
Poor monkeys. Though if Iran's nuclear program does work out and it's not so peaceful, sending monkeys to their death in orbit will of course be the least of our problems.