Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is ready to be his country's first astronaut, he said Monday at the unveiling of the prototypes of two satellites that Tehran hopes to be able to launch into orbit this year.

He also rebutted doubts expressed by foreign media outlets regarding last month's announcement of the launching into sub-orbital space of a small monkey in a satellite aboard an Iranian rocket.

"The diabolical enemy," a designation encompassing Israel, the United States and its allies, is worried about Iran's progress "in all scientific fields" and is using any means to "loot Iranian resources," Ahmadinejad said.

Present at the event - where Iranian authorities displayed the prototypes of the Zohreh and Nahid communications satellites, which Iran has said it will place in orbit this year - along with the president was Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi, who said that Iran has had a space program for 10 years and hopes to be able to send a man into orbit before 2020.

Iran launched its first satellite in 2009 and, since then, it has placed others in orbit using its own rockets and technology.

In February 2012, Tehran announced that it was developing new rockets to launch satellites into higher orbits.

The development of the space rockets, which use the same technology as long-range ballistic missiles, has caused particular concern in both the United States and Israel. EFE