"I am ready to be the first human to be sent to space by Iranian scientists," Ahmadinejad said on Monday, on the sidelines of an exhibition of space achievements in Tehran, according to the Mehr news agency.
"Sending living things into space is the result of Iranian efforts and the dedication of thousands of Iranian scientists."
It’s not actually as bizarre as it seems. Ahmedinijad’s final term in office ends in August this year. As career moves go, this one would be straight up. After all, what do ex-Iranian Presidents do with all that spare time?
Iran’s highly ambitious and equally controversial space program has also had its share of detractors and skepticism, so Ahmedinijad would be moving in to an a form of celebrity he knows well.
A manned space flight is in fact on the agenda of the Iranian space agency. It’s the next step in a logical progression of Iranian moves designed to prove Iran can do things despite Western sanctions and obstruction. This is also very much a natural area of interest for Ahemedinijad, who’s taken a lot of personal flak from the foreign media over the years.
Exactly how much peace of mind the world will have with President Ahmedinijad flying overhead in orbit is debatable. The Americans and Israelis may have some doubts about the upside to an orbiting Ahmedinijad passing overhead, particularly if with a live microphone.
A mission of this sort would, of course, make Ahmedinijad a global hero in terms of the Iranian-backed world. It would be a propaganda coup for Iran, and a pretty uncomfortable experience for Iran’s enemies, particularly regional enemies.
Nobody, of course, knows how much credence to give Ahmedinijad’s statement. Presumably, we’ll see.
If it works, perhaps some Western talkback people could be persuaded to take their ideologies to the universe, too. Ahmedinijad may yet deserve a Nobel Prize for his contributions to science.