No. It is not a joke.

It is Iran’s way of celebrating the 34th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution — the same revolution that resulted in the rise of the Ayatollah and set the country back to the stone ages — by shooting monkeys into outer space, according to Israel’s DEBKAfile. Yes, apparently Iran will tout its ballistic rocket progress by (it hopes) launching the furry primates into space next month, according to Hamid Fazeli, head of Iran’s space agency. He said it is also part of a larger program for sending Iranian astronauts into orbit by 2020.

While it all seems the material of a stand-up comedy routine, the real motivation is, not surprisingly, far more sinister and has everything to do with Iran’s nuclear ambitions. The country has come to be famous for thinly attempting to veil its nuclear missiles capabilities under the guise of scientific, or more pointedly, space exploration.

Since firing its first satellite in February 2009, DEBKA military sources report that Iran has developed a rocket with a payload capacity of 330 kilograms, which indeed has the capability of placing nuclear warheads anywhere on the planet.

After Omid, the name of Iran’s last satellite, American and Israeli rocket and intelligence experts warned their respective governments that Iran’s achievements in space technology directly correlates with the country’s most dangerous breakthroughs in their development of a nuclear warhead and delivery device.

Thus far there is no information about the size and weight of the Iranian space capsule slated to propel the monkeys into orbit, important information as the capsule’s capacity will determine the size of the nuclear warhead the rockets can deliver.

Confirming this point, DEBKA notes that as little as two years ago, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Iran “has also been carrying out covert ballistic missile tests and rocket launches, including testing missiles capable of delivering a nuclear payment in contravention of UN Resolution 1929.”

According to DEBKA, no less than five monkeys are set to be take flight in a capsule dubbed Pishgam, or “Pioneer,” propelled into the outer limits by a Kavoshgar rocket hovering 120-130 kilometers above the earth’s atmosphere. Western space experts are reportedly not confident about the Islamic regime’s technological capabilities, however, and believe the monkeys will “soon” come down to earth.

Frighteningly, this is not the country’s first attempt to launch a live creature into orbit in the name of its nuclear ambitions. Last October, Iranian officials actually owned up to the fact that in August they had indeed sent another live monkey into space, but had failed. Many hope Iran’s nuclear weapons program will fail as abysmally.