Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has declared he is prepared to risk his life and become the first human to be sent into space by his country’s fledgling space programme.
Iran declared last week it had successfully launched a monkey into space and retrieved it alive, which officials hailed as a major step towards their goal of sending humans into space.
The launch added to western concerns about Iran’s space programme because the same rocket technology could potentially be used to deliver a nuclear warhead on a ballistic missile.
“I am ready to be the first human to be sent to space by Iranian scientists,” Ahmadinejad told a group of scientists in Tehran gathered to celebrate the country’s space achievements, according to the semi-official Mehr news agency. Ahmadinejad was speaking at an event organised for the anniversary celebration of the 1979 Islamic revolution.
“Sending living things into space is the result of Iranian efforts and the dedication of thousands of Iranian scientists,” he said.
It was unclear if the suggestion was a serious one, but one group of Iranians declared they would do everything in their power to help Ahmadinejad achieve his goal.
Within minutes of the news breaking, a Facebook page was set up called “In support of sending Ahmadinejad into space“.
One user posted on the page: “We will accompany him to the platform, we will even pay for the shuttle’s fuel costs.”
Ahmadinejad’s second and final term as president ends in June, and his political star has been on the wane since he fell out with parliament early in his second term and appeared to lose the support of the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
On Sunday, he stood up in parliament to play a tape recording that he said provided evidence of corruption by the family of the parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani, his political arch-rival and a likely frontrunner to succeed him as president. Larijani and his brother Fazel denied the accusations.