UnNews:Iran defies IAU, maintains that Pluto is a planet
26 August 2006
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TEHRAN, Iran -- Days after the International Astronomical Union passed a binding resolution declaring that Pluto is no longer classified as a planet, Iran defiantly maintains that it still is. Astronomers worldwide are shocked at the Middle Eastern country's stubbornness, but are still hoping negotiations will lead to a satisfactory conclusion.
"It is unacceptable to hold on to the belief that the small, icy rock out in the Kuiper Belt is a full-fledged planet," explained IAU chief Buzz Lightyear. Experts say that calling it a "midget planetoid" may be acceptable, but anything beyond that would be crossing the line. Many fear Iran's position on the matter could lead to an interplanetary war.
But Iran's charismatic President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad held a press conference Sunday, boldly sticking to his opinion. "The voice of the people of Iran cannot be silenced. We have chosen to recognize Pluto as a planet, and the Western World must respect our peaceful decision," he announced. He later added, seemingly off-topic, "The Zionist regime must be wiped off the map." Sources say Iran has already rejected a shipment of new school textbooks, which list only 8 planets. Furthermore, they continue listing Charon as "Pluto's moon," further angering scientists.
The IAU is scheduled to report on Iran's astronomical activity by mid-September, at which time the United Nations will meet to discuss possible sanctions. Officials say that the country will almost certainly be found in violation of the latest resolution. Satellite imagery of the Tehran Telescope Array, which was funded exclusively for planetary research, had its lenses aimed directly at Pluto. The IAU used to maintain monitoring equipment at the site, but Iran expelled foreign astronomers months ago.
The United States is readying for a potential showdown with Iran over the issue, with President Bush declaring, "The time for negotiations is quickly running out." Asked why Iran's recognition of Pluto as a planet is a threat to the world, White House press secretary Tony Snow explained, "They could use their planetary research money to mine Pluto and extract plutonium for nucular weapons."
Sparking further worries are rumors that Iran is considering adding the asteroid Ceres and the newly discovered Xena to its list of planets. "Such a move could certainly spark World War III," commented Secretary General of the UN, Kofi Annan.
- AP "Defying U.N., Iran opens nuclear reactor" "", August 26, 2006