AP’s George Jahn, ISI’s David Albright Re-run Allegations of Iranian Bomb Calculations

I can calculate the destructive power of nuclear explosions, too, with this handy tool from 1962.

Breathlessly calling today’s story an “AP Exclusive“, George Jahn sticks to his usual routine of depending on “diplomats” to leak information on Iran and then using David Albright to cast the information in a way calculated to make it look as though Iran has made new, major breakthroughs in efforts to develop a nuclear weapon. Today’s effort is more transparent than a pink tarp, with Jahn’s article itself finally getting around to noting that everything claimed to be an “exclusive” in the article was already noted in IAEA’s November, 2011 report.

Jahn’s opening:

The U.N. atomic agency has received new intelligence that Iran has moved further toward the ability to build a nuclear weapon by advancing its work on calculating the destructive power of an atomic warhead, diplomats tell The Associated Press.

And then, of course, we need Albright to add just the right spin:

“You want to have a theoretical understanding of the working of a nuclear weapon that is then related to the experiments you do on the various components,” said David Albright, whose Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security is a frequent go-to source on Iran for Congress and other U.S. government branches. “The two go hand-in-hand.”

Such computer mock-ups typically assess how high explosives compress fissile warhead material, setting off the chain reaction that results in a nuclear explosion. The yield is normally calculated in kilotons.

Now that we have been properly scared into believing there is new and damning evidence against Iran, let’s see what Jahn finds when he goes back to the November, 2011 IAEA report:

The IAEA first outlined suspicions in November that Iran was working on calculating the yield of a nuclear weapon, as part of a 13-page summary of Iran’s suspected nuclear weapons work that it said was based on more than 1,000 pages of research and intelligence from more than 10 member nations.

It said then that “the modeling studies alleged to have been conducted in 2008 and 2009 by Iran … (are) of particular concern,” adding that the purpose of such studies for calculating anything other than nuclear explosion yields is “unclear to the agency.”

Albright, of the Institute for Science and International Security, said such computer-run modeling is “critical to the development of a nuclear weapon.”

So Jahn admits that this “new” information is basically just a re-run of what was stated in November by the IAEA. I guess Jahn and his handlers decided that not enough attention had been paid to this particular nugget of information, and so a new “exclusive” was needed in order to focus more attention on it. That is a very brave move after being punked so badly by the pink tarps.

At least Jahn got one sentence correct:

Any new evidence of Iranian research into nuclear weapons is likely to strengthen the hand of hawks in Israel who advocate a military strike on Iran.

Next week, perhaps Jahn and Albright can provide analysis of all Google searches from Iran on “nuclear weapons”. I’m sure Jahn’s “diplomat” friends can provide those for us.

Many years ago, Jim got a BA in Radiation Biophysics from the University of Kansas. He then got a PhD in Molecular Biology from UCLA and did postdoctoral research in yeast genetics at UC Berkeley and mouse retroviruses at Stanford. He joined biosys in Palo Alto, producing insect parasitic nematodes for pest control. In the early 1990’s, he moved to Gainesville, FL and founded a company that eventually became Entomos. He left the firm as it reorganized into Pasteuria Biosciences and chose not to found a new firm due a clash of values with venture capital investors, who generally lack all values. Upon leaving, he chose to be a stay at home dad, gentleman farmer, cook and horse wrangler. He discovered the online world through commenting at Glenn Greenwald’s blog in the Salon days and was involved in the briefly successful Chris Dodd move to block the bill to renew FISA. He then went on to blog at Firedoglake and served a brief stint as evening editor there. When the Emptywheel blog moved out of Firedoglake back to standalone status, Jim tagged along and blogged on anthrax, viruses, John Galt, Pakistan and Afghanistan. He is now a mostly lapsed blogger looking for a work-around to the depressing realization that pointing out the details of government malfeasance and elite immunity has approximately zero effect.
7 replies
  1. Jim White says:

    Note the contrast between what we see here and the post from Marcy just before this one. Bush and his administration ignored repeated credible warnings from the intelligence community on bin Laden’s plans to attack the US. The manufactured “intelligence” that Jahn and Albright are pushing here is much more like the allegations Cheney’s Team B put forward on Saddam than like the real intelligence on bin Laden.

  2. OrionATL says:

    “… The IAEA first outlined suspicions in November that Iran was working on calculating the yield of a nuclear weapon, as part of a 13-page summary of Iran’s suspected nuclear weapons work that it said was based on more than 1,000 pages of research and intelligence from more than 10 member nations.

    It said then that “the modeling studies alleged to have been conducted in 2008 and 2009 by Iran … (are) of particular concern,” adding that the purpose of such studies for calculating anything other than nuclear explosion yields is “unclear to the agency.”…”

    all of which was discovered by uncrypting documents found in a certain laptop computer and tossed thru the transom in jahn’s office.

  3. person1597 says:

    Incurious George’s fondness for PDB storybook time was promptly followed by a nap and Justitium.

    Dreaming of himself as excellency, the auctoritas principis commanding visions of RaptureCrafts descending like a flock of seagulls.

    And I ran, I ran so far away.

    I just ran, I ran all night and day.

    I couldn’t get away.

    As for circular slide rules, well, I’m keeping mine!

  4. JohnLopresti says:

    Mostly offtopic: There is a similarity between the impuse to create skyscraper districts in cities, and the impetus to make strong bombs, I would posit. I wonder if Jim White, historically, biologically, and oceanographically speaking, had noticed the data about the bomb called blast Bravo, from the 1954 atmospheric, and seasurface tests called Castle in the Marshall Islands, vicinity of Enewetak and Bikini Atoll. Bravo was 15 megatons, one of the US’s 1950s outsized blasts; but it also raised concerns among regional western Pacific countries sufficient to propel development of meetings at the UN and in Geneva to pressure uptight fifties governments into quitting atmospheric testing.

    I have yet to research what were the specific excesses which were unanticipated in Bravo; merely a page in that interesting study. Maybe something about the post’s graphic image depicted blast calculator was imprecise at that range. Lots of US tests were kilotons dynamite equivalent. Soon, the US unilaterally suspended tests. The impracticality of blasting highway rights of way with nuclear explosions, the theme of the late tests in the series called plowshare, mitigated against some testing. The Russia aggregated countries produced a ~30 megaton atmospheric test. The explosion world fell silent, though other countries would join the test club later.

    I would expect the fusion trigger test at Parchin was part of a formula, as well, if it occurred as only rumored in open source reporting, with an endpoint scoped to fit policy-based design.

    Still, I wonder about undersea life impacts in places bombs were tested underwater. There even was one test five hundred miles distant from the gulf of Mexico, before the moratoria and bans became the rule of modern nuclear arms research.

  5. JohnLopresti says:

    revising my @5, the near-gulf test was a different gulf; a 1955 test called wigwam was a 30 kiloton detonation 1/2 mile underneath the ocean ~600 miles from the coast of Los Angeles, in a place where the water was ~2 miles deep.

    There was, in fact, 1958 testing as well over the south Atlantic, but not at ocean level; rather, those were low earth orbit space tests of ~1 kiloton in a program known as Argus. The biological impacts of those tests are not as much of an interest for purposes of this comment, pertaining instead to militarization of space. And the cited link, above, gives quite sparse information about Argus.

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