AP, George Jahn, and the Fake Diagram for Iran’s Bomb

The War Party and Israel just do not give up on trying to provoke a war with Iran. Now that Benjamin Netanyahu is done killing the Palestinians in Gaza, including dozens of children, Mossad has apparently fed the public with yet another piece of fake "evidence," supposedly obtained through hacking of Iran’s computers, through its usual conduit for such nonsense, George Jahn of the Associated Press. The latest "evidence" is a diagram that supposedly exhibits power and energy released in a simulation of nuclear explosion. Before I debunk this piece of nonsense, a bit of background information on Jahn may be useful.

Every time there is a flicker of a diplomatic solution to the crisis over Iran’s nuclear program, Jahn reports an “exclusive” revelation of a "dire" nature, always provided to him by “an official of a country tracking Iran’s nuclear program,” or “an official of a country that has been severely critical of Iran’s nuclear program.” While the country – like the official – is never named, we can be certain that it is Israel. Sometimes the country is referred to as a “member of the International Atomic Energy Agency” (IAEA), sometimes as a “member state.” Presumably, the hope is that since it is widely known that Israel is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, readers will assume that it is not the source; what is not widely known, however, is that Israel is a member of the IAEA, an odd exception. Consider the following dispatch from last March, in which Jahn reported,

Satellite images of an Iranian military facility appear to show trucks and earth-moving vehicles at the site, indicating an attempted cleanup of radioactive traces possibly left by tests of a nuclear-weapon trigger, diplomats told the Associated Press…. The assertions from the diplomats, all nuclear experts accredited to the International Atomic Energy Agency, could add to the growing international pressure on Iran over its nuclear program…. Two of the diplomats said the crews at the Parchin military site may be trying to erase evidence of tests of a small experimental neutron device used to set off a nuclear explosion. A third diplomat could not confirm that but said any attempt to trigger a so-called neutron initiator could only be in the context of trying to develop nuclear arms.

Parchin is a non-nuclear site, about 20 miles southeast of Tehran, in which Iran has been producing conventional ammunition and explosives for its military for over five decades. The IAEA has alleged that Iran has built a containment chamber there for experiments that it has, again allegedly, carried out with high explosives that are relevant to triggering a nuclear reaction. Jahn does not mention any name or country. However, as Gareth Porter reported, “The satellite photographs described to Jahn did not come from U.S. intelligence. Former CIA counterterrorism official Phil Giraldi told IPS that a U.S. intelligence official had confirmed to him that the officials in question were not talking about intelligence provided by U.S. intelligence.”

In his May 13 “exclusive,” Jahn claimed,

A drawing based on information from inside an Iranian military site shows an explosives’ containment chamber of the type needed for nuclear arms-related tests that U.N. Inspectors suspect Tehran has conducted there…. The computer-generated drawing was provided to The Associated Press by an official of a country tracking Iran’s nuclear program who said it proves the structure exists, despite Tehran’s refusal to acknowledge it.

Underneath the drawing, Jahn said, “The official demanded that he and his country remain anonymous in exchange for sharing secret intelligence information.” This is Jahn’s modus operandi, quoting faceless, nameless officials from an unnamed country. He continued, “That official said the image is based on information from a person who had seen the chamber at the Parchin military site, adding that going into detail would endanger the life of that informant.” This is nonsense. If the chamber does exist, it must be highly classified, in which case only very few people would have seen it and Iranian intelligence must have a list of who has been in the chamber.

The experts immediately raised serious questions about the drawing, including its inconsistencies with the sort of high-explosive test chamber it purports to depict. The flat ends and sharp merge points with the cylindrical hull differ from the prototypical chambers at Los Alamos. Moreover, anyone who has been to Iran can immediately tell you that it looks exactly the same as the standard cylindrical tanks that are used to store gas-oil or other types of fuel in rural areas, such as Parchin.

In his latest "exclusive" Jahn has reported,

Iranian scientists have run computer simulations for a nuclear weapon that would produce more than triple the explosive force of the World War II bomb that destroyed Hiroshima, according to a diagram obtained by The Associated Press…

The diagram seen by the AP shows a bell curve – with variables of time in micro-seconds, and power and energy both in kilotons – the traditional measurement of the energy output, and hence the destructive power of nuclear weapons. The curve peaks at just above 50 kilotons at around 2 microseconds, reflecting the full force of the weapon being modeled.

The diagram is the top one below. It is so amateurish and so wrong that it would be laughable, if not about such a serious matter. This is not due to the extremely poor quality of the figure – although after working with doctoral students in physics and engineering in Iran for two decades, I know the quality of work and the diagrams produced there, and this is not one. It is also not because the diagram says nothing about what the source of energy is. But, it is because anyone who has an iota of knowledge of physics can immediately tell that the diagram is fake, by just looking at it. Consider the following:

The unit of Energy in the diagram is [kT/sec] x [microseconds] = kT x10-6, implying that the numerical values of Power should be multiplied by 10-6 to give the correct units of Energy, which are given on the right vertical axis. But, the values of Power plotted in the diagram are on the order of 1012 and after being multiplied by 10-6, they are of the order of 106, about five orders of magnitude (at least 100,000 times) larger than what the Energy axis of the diagram indicates.

But, let us forget about this, and assume that there was an "honest" mistake in plotting the graph. In physics language, "Energy is the time integral of power." (Integrating means summing.) So, I computed the Energy based on the Power, with the results also shown in the bottom diagram. The Energy values are at least 20 times smaller than reported values, which again indicate that the graph is fake, and the entire "exclusive" a hoax.

In the words of a Persian proverb, “The fox was asked who his witness is, and he responded, my tail.” So who are Jahn’s “witnesses” for his latest "exclusive"? Ollie Heinonen and David Albright. Heinonen, who served until last year as IAEA deputy director-general for safeguards, is the man who made the first public presentation about Iran’s alleged nuclear weapon program based entirely on a laptop that no one ever saw. The credibility of the laptop – if it ever existed – and its essential premise and claims were refuted by Gareth Porter, Michel Chossudovsky, and myself. Consequently, Heinonen and others no longer refer to it when trying to make their case, even though, as I have previously pointed out, almost all the allegations made in the November 2011 IAEA report on Iran are precisely the same as those that Heinonen made in his February 2008 presentation to the IAEA Board of Governors based on the laptop. Heinonen, who often says that he is from Finland, perhaps implying that he is genetically neutral, recently joined the group United Against A Nuclear Iran, a lobby for Israel and the War Party.

As for Albright, according to Jahn he “said the diagram looks genuine but seems to be designed more ‘to understand the process’ than as part of a blueprint for an actual weapon in the making.” That is the level of understanding of the president of Institute for Science and International Security, which is essentially a mouthpiece for Yukiya Amano of the IAEA.

This is the type of “evidence” that Jahn and AP provide. But here is the crucial point: the goal is not to prove anything. This sort of campaign requires no real evidence, but merely the constant reiteration of accusations, so that a layman or casual observer is ultimately led to believe that there must be something to them, and then people like Albright claim that "they look genuine."

Muhammad Sahimi, Professor of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science and the NIOC Chair in Petroleum Engineering at the University of Southern California, is co-founder and editor of the website, Iran News & Middle East Reports.

Author: Muhammad Sahimi

Muhammad Sahimi, Professor of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science and the NIOC Chair in Petroleum Engineering at the University of Southern California, is co-founder and editor of the website, Iran News & Middle East Reports.