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The AP’s George Jahn serves up Israeli propaganda on Iran yet again

on 23 Comments

The Associated Press‘ favorite conduit for pathetic Israeli propaganda on the Iranian nuclear program, George Jahn, came out with another doozy on Tuesday.  Under a banner touting a “Big Story,” Jahn published an article headlined, “AP Exclusive: Graph suggests Iran working on bomb,” which purported to show proof that “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.” Really.

So what evidence does Jahn provide to back up this oh-so-shocking claim?  Why, a “diagram” that was “leaked by officials from a country critical of Iran’s atomic program,” of course!  And why was it leaked directly to AP, you ask?  In order to, as Jahn puts it, “bolster their arguments that Iran’s nuclear program must be halted before it produces a weapon.”  But don’t worry anonymous critical officials, your secret is safe with nobody. “The officials provided the diagram only on condition that they and their country not be named,” Jahn reveals.  Whew.

Gee, where on Earth might they be from?  Probably Palau. No, no, wait.  Suriname?  Maybe it’s Denmark.  Or Nepal.  Or Togo in collaboration with the covert, graphing wizards of Luxembourg.

Seriously, though, Israel, we get it, it’s you.  And it’s embarrassing.  Cool it.

By the way, here‘s the graph.  And yes, to reiterate, this was actually published by a respected, mainstream news wire service.


Power!  Energy!  Kilotons!  Microseconds!  Time!  (5)!  Oh the horror!

Apparently, AP stands for Absurd Propaganda.

The graph is not only weirdly crude, but also undated, unsourced, and unexplained.  The Persian text at the bottom, as translated by AP, mentions nothing about nuclear weapons or an atomic payload for a bomb.  It just reads, “Changes in output and in energy released as a function of time through power pulse.”  To call this graph “dubious” would be generous; to tout it as “proof” of anything is simply embarrassing.  It literally means nothing, except perhaps that math exists.  The graph shows nothing more than a probability density function, that is, an abstract visual aid depicting the theoretical behavior of a random variable to take on any given value.

Beyond that, theoretical physics professor Dr. M. Hossein Partovi, who teaches courses in thermodynamics and quantum mechanics at Sacramento State, noting that the graph is plotted in microseconds, explains that “the graph depicted in the report is a nonspecific power/energy plot that is primarily evidence of the incompetence of those who forged it: a quick look at the energy graph shows that the total energy is more than four orders of magnitude (forty thousand times) smaller than the total integrated power that it must equal!” [Minor point of clarification: an “order of magnitude” equals 10^4 or 10,000 times, but Partovi added that the actual discrepancy on the graph is closer to 40,000 times.] 

It is no more proof of Iranian nuclear weapons work than a crumpled up piece of notebook paper with a game of hangman on it demonstrates evidence that someone in your European history seminar is actively constructing a Tyburn gallows for the express purpose of lynching all first graders.

Apparently, someone back at Mossad headquarters was leafing through an arcane nuclear physics textbook from the mid-1970s and thought this particular graph looked especially ominous and decided to make a carbon copy or two – one for the IAEA and one to pass along to sycophantic ventriloquist George Jahn, who clearly has no problem publishing such silliness. Hey, he’s done it before.

Remember this?


Yup, that was Jahn.  And who leaked that one?  Oh right, officials from a country that is “severely critical of Iran’s assertions that its nuclear activities are peaceful and asserts they are a springboard for making atomic arms.”  Must be Estonia.  No, wait, Cape Verde?

By now, one thing is clear.  The Israeli Government PropaGraphics Squad is truly awful.  I mean, c’mon:


In order to corroborate the scariness of Israel’s bogus graph in his latest scooperino, Jahn, who has long been a go-to source for pathetic fearmongering about Iran, turned to – who else? – perennial nuclear alarmist David Albright and consummate hysteric Olli Heinonen, both of whom have extensive histories of freaking out about nothing at all. 

But Jahn’s buddies don’t even really come through for him.  Albright “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.”  After Jahn stretches credulity by describing alleged “live tests of conventional explosives that could be used to detonate a nuclear weapon at Parchin” that yielded “data” which then “fed the model plotted in the diagram,” Heinonen chimed in by saying that the results of such tests could “make sense as part of the design and testing of a (computer) model.”

So, to sum up: nuclear “experts” have determined that an Israeli diagram of a bell curve with spooky squiggly writing is “genuine” (insofar as it exists) and that its contents could “make sense” as something super vague and devoid of context or relevance if all this other stuff that Israel has made up but there’s no actual proof of also happens to be true.

Got that?

No wonder Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has called repeatedly called Israeli attempts to rattle sabres over Iran “childish.”

With this in mind, I’m sure we can all look forward to Israel’s next foray into the graphic arts, dutifully transmitted via George Jahn’s servile stenography.  Personally, I’m hoping it will take Lite-Brite form next time.


A version of this post first appeared on Nima Shirazi’s website Wide Asleep In America.

About Nima Shirazi

Nima Shirazi is co-editor of the Iran, Iraq and Turkey pages for the online magazine Muftah. His political analysis can be found on his blog,, where this post first appeared. Follow him on Twitter @WideAsleepNima.

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23 Responses

  1. pabelmont
    pabelmont on November 28, 2012, 12:12 pm

    Nima Shirazi: Love your humor. Make fun of those anonymouses (from an unnamed country). Go ahead. We need humor around here. Not a lotta lightness in this I/P business. As a rule.

    Your concerns here are also taken up by Richard Silverstein.

  2. Egbert
    Egbert on November 28, 2012, 12:40 pm

    I’ve been told that it is the 1930’s (the sequel) so somebody has to be Lord Ha Ha.

  3. Les
    Les on November 28, 2012, 12:54 pm

    Since when has the AP not been part of the Israel Lobby? Why should we expect it to be any different than the rest of our big media?

  4. piotr
    piotr on November 28, 2012, 12:59 pm

    Those bastards can use Matlab! What else do we need to prove their evil intentions!

    Note: a student in math/engineering etc. would make this graph in one minute. Well, perhaps in 5 minutes.

  5. hughsansom
    hughsansom on November 28, 2012, 1:33 pm

    Olli Heinonen and David Albright are examples of just how successful you can be if you say the scary things that the ‘right people’ want to hear. George Jahn is one of those little animals that survives off the waste of the likes of Heinonen and Albright.

    Nima Shirazi only begins the story of how grossly flawed Jahn’s story is. A google of “graph of yield of nuclear weapon” shows that the ‘graph’ has already been widely picked up by a predictable array of second rate media outlets. Something like this gets repeated and repeated until we have some dingbat on ABC WorldNews or the House Armed Service Committee reporting it as established fact.

    The real question is just who would ‘leak’ such nonsense. It’s not the least bit convincing. Diane Sawyer would take it seriously. Wolf Blitzer would. But much as I despise The New York Times, they wouldn’t. And Israel has plenty of its own genuine simulations that it could doctor to be ‘Iranian.’ And if you are going to doctor that, why not doctor the axis labels to show how advanced the Iranian software is — as opposed to having to use that stuff pirated from Microsoft . . . you know, the “Build Your Own Bomb” expansion pack for Windows.

  6. seafoid
    seafoid on November 28, 2012, 2:28 pm

    I can’t see the US attacking Iran. People are weary after 10 years and 4 trillion dollars. Plus China would love nothing more than to see the Great Satan bankrupt itself fighting another war for Zionism.

  7. justicewillprevail
    justicewillprevail on November 28, 2012, 2:37 pm

    Absolute buffoons and idiots. Who would possibly believe a word from the childish fantasists of Israel any more? And yet they have a loyal squad of journalists and media commentators who will snap up any dog-eared tittle tattle, without the most cursory examination, and breathlessly print it. If there’s anything more risible than Israeli propaganda it is the unquestioning sycophants who breathlessly repeat it, both in the media and Congress. Hey, the emperor hasn’t got any clothes, haven’t you noticed?

  8. tombishop
    tombishop on November 28, 2012, 3:11 pm

    Glenn Greenwald has a good column about this at The Guardian:

    AP believes it found evidence of Iran’s work on nuclear weapons
    A primitive graph provided by ‘a country critical of Iran’s atomic program’ indicts the news outlet more than Tehran

  9. piotr
    piotr on November 28, 2012, 3:58 pm

    “The Israeli Government PropaGraphics Squad is truly awful. ”

    I would see some excuses. The artist had to be conversant with Persian to produce a caption, with Matlab to produce a plot and be a discrete supporter of Hasbarah efforts, a rare combination of skills.

    The goddam awful graphics for the video of “dinner invitation” have no excuse whatsoever.

  10. on November 28, 2012, 5:01 pm

    “If it quacks like a duck…”

  11. LanceThruster
    LanceThruster on November 28, 2012, 5:24 pm

    Uh-oh. That Lite-Brite graphic is the avatar I use on the interwebs (it’s Err of Aqua Teen Hunger Force fame). Now I’ll never get off that watch list!

  12. doug
    doug on November 28, 2012, 7:08 pm

    Gee, energy equals power integrated over time. Who knew!

    Now, if whatever idiot did that graph would get their math right they might notice that, well, the math doesn’t add up. And by over 7 orders of magnitude or so. Maybe the right hand axis should be labeled Watts (Joules/s) and it was just some sort of clerical error.

    What nonsense.

  13. Denis
    Denis on November 28, 2012, 7:11 pm

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    November 28, 2012 at 2:06 pm

    Yep, I was waiting for someone to pounce on this. Great job, Nima. I rank this as high as your May12 take down of the Parchin chamber, which was a classic.

    This bell-shaped BS is hitting all the Israeli rags because there’s nothing like a bell-shaped curve with Persian sub-titles to get Israelis’ knickers in a twist. I mean nothing looks more scientific that the ole’ BSC .

    The problem however, is that the IAEA keeps relying on whatever this mysterious source is for its official reports. And, of course, the official reports get turned into public policy and, eventually no doubt, military action.
    [See link to

    My guess is that all of this anonymous crap has David Albright’s fingerprints all over it, and if you dig deeply enough into Albright’s pockets you’ll find plenty of shekels.

    Readers may recall Albright’s huff and blow about the Pink Site at Parchin about 6 months ago. That’s where the Crayola-drawn chamber was supposed to be. The building was leaking water at the time and had a pink roof, which, of course, proved beyond a doubt that it was a nuke site. Well, GoogleEarth has just come out with new satellite photos [35° 33.549′ N 51° 47.118′ E] and it’s no longer pink or leaking. Whew! That can only be good. Nothing scarier than a micturating pink building in Parchin.

  14. DICKERSON3870
    DICKERSON3870 on November 28, 2012, 9:44 pm

    ● RE: “The Associated Press’ favorite conduit for pathetic Israeli propaganda on the Iranian nuclear program, George Jahn, came out with another doozy on Tuesday.” ~ Nima Shirazi

    “How Mossad Justified Its Murder of an Innocent Iranian Electrical Engineer”, by Gareth Porter,, 3/17/12

    [EXCERPTS] . . . On July 23, 2011, a 35-year-old Iranian electrical engineering student named Darioush Rezaeinejad was gunned down as he and his wife, who was also wounded in the attack, waited for their child in front of a kindergarten in Tehran. . .
    . . . The possibility that Mossad killed the wrong Iranian scientist cannot be completely ruled out. But almost immediately after his murder, Israel sought to justify the murder of Rezaeinejad by presenting him as working on the covert nuclear weapons program Israel had been claiming for years. Associated Press correspondent in Vienna George Jahn reported on July 28 that an anonymous official of an anonymous “member state” of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) told him Rezaeinejad had been participating in “developing high voltage switches,” which he described as “a key component in setting off the explosives needed to trigger a nuclear warhead.”
    . . . Two months later, on September 19, Jahn and his anonymous source from the unnamed member state were back at it again, this time with a purported “intelligence summary” claiming to identify the researcher who had allegedly collaborated with Rezaeinejad. . .
    . . . Finally, the intelligence summary claimed that Rezaeinejad was not an electrical engineer at all, but a “physicist” who had worked for the Iranian defense ministry on not only high-voltage switches, but also on other projects linked to nuclear weapons development – which it did not identify.
    But an investigation into the Rezaeinejad case reveals that Israel had used the AP’s Jahn to carry out a deliberate disinformation campaign about the victim to justify his murder. Rezaeinejad left a record of published research which makes it very clear that he was indeed an electrical engineer, rather than a physicist, and that he had been working on basic electrical power engineering technologies. . .


  15. Peter in SF
    Peter in SF on November 29, 2012, 5:28 am

    Yes, as doug said, this is just a graph of energy equal to power integrated over time. It is not a probability density function as stated above; I’m sorry to see that Glenn Greenwald makes this same mistake in his Update in the Guardian. I think this graph is most likely showing energy and power of a microsecond laser pulse. See, for example, this page from a course on laser physics.

    The most hilarious thing, which I haven’t seen mentioned yet, is that “kT” most definitely does not stand for kilotons; it stands for Boltzmann’s constant multiplied by temperature, which has the units of energy and comes up often in physics: see this Wikipedia article. Jahn’s interpretation is guaranteed to get a good laugh from an audience of physicists! There are a couple of other things wrong with “kT” meaning kilotons:
    (1) The unit of tons is always abbreviated by lower case t, never upper-case T (which stands for tesla, a unit of strength of magnetic fields); so kiloton would be abbreviated kt.
    (2) Jahn is just being a bad reporter when he says that kilotons are “the traditional measurement of the energy output, and hence the destructive power of nuclear weapons” — but never mentions that this measurement is about energy output equivalent in kilotons of TNT.

    And I have to savor the comment posted by Yitzhak Santis on the AP website:

    That’s not the point. If the graph is an authentic Iranian gov’t document, it demonstrates the Iranian interest in developing a nuclear weapon, and that is the heart of the controversy. You don’t need such a graph, after all, to build nuclear reactors for generating electricity.

    Santis used to be the chief hasbarist of the San Francisco Jewish Community Relations Council, and now works for NGO Monitor.

    • subconscious
      subconscious on November 29, 2012, 8:02 pm

      Your interpretation of “kT” as “Boltzmann’s constant times temperature” does not apply to the graph, since the “kT” placed in parentheses as part of the axis labels indicates unit of measurement, whereas your interpretation of “kT” does not specify a unit, but a variable. As far as the lower/upper case convention (t/T) for tons, there doesn’t seem to be such a definitive convention as you claim; I’ve seen it specified in both cases, although “t” is more common. These, however, are minor points.

      • Peter in SF
        Peter in SF on December 2, 2012, 6:16 am

        Your interpretation of “kT” as “Boltzmann’s constant times temperature” does not apply to the graph, since the “kT” placed in parentheses as part of the axis labels indicates unit of measurement, whereas your interpretation of “kT” does not specify a unit, but a variable.

        In retrospect, I’m probably wrong. In theory, the graph could be showing power and energy for something you’re going to do over a possible range of temperatures, rather than at some fixed temperature, but that could be a far-fetched possibility.

      • subconscious
        subconscious on December 2, 2012, 2:18 pm

        The way “kT” is placed on the graph is not the conventional way if “T” was meant to be a variable like temperature. But if you nonetheless interpret “T” as such, then the graph, as presented, is totally meaningless to the viewer, b/c “T,” and, hence, the output energy, could vary between 0 & infinity. In other words, the graph could just as readily be referring to the energy output of a small flash light as to that of a superbomb that could destroy the solar system.

      • subconscious
        subconscious on December 2, 2012, 9:45 pm

        Peter in SF,

        My point is not that your interpretation of “kT” (constant times temperature) is all that far-fetched. It’s quite possible that the graph is for a system where a range of temperatures are to be considered, and placing “kT” inside or outside the parentheses is more a matter of personal preference. But if you wanna be more generous to the atom-bomb story, then the “kiloton” interpretation of “kT” may be a simpler one. Of course, the issue w/ the discrepancy between the power and energy curves remains in either case.

  16. doug
    doug on November 30, 2012, 5:10 pm

    In looking at it closer I really don’t see what units they could possibly be using for the power axis. 50kt is approx 2E14 J, or Watt/S. and whatever units they are using for kT/s and kT are inconsistent. Whatever they meant to label the kT axis with doesn’t fit anything reasonable assuming the the 50kT net energy is expressed in kilo tons TNT equiv.

    • Peter in SF
      Peter in SF on December 2, 2012, 6:17 am

      If the numbers on the power axis are correct, then the area under the power curve is roughly 2 million kT, so this should be the maximum energy, but the energy shown is 1/40,000 of that. They could be using different units, so that one of the kT is wrong, but I can’t find any standard unit that is either 40,000 or 1/40,000 kilotons of TNT.

      • subconscious
        subconscious on December 2, 2012, 2:48 pm

        Since 1 kiloton TNT=4.184 TJ (TJ, TeraJoules, is a trillion Joules), if the units on the (left side) power axis were changed from kilotons/second (kT/sec) to 100 MJ (M, Mega, is a million), then the 2 curves would be roughly consistent and the energy curve would be showing a final yield equivalent to 2.5 times that of the Nagasaki bomb. I don’t think such creative reinterpretations of the graph are particularly meaningful, but since you were looking for some way of making sense of the discrepancies in the graph …

      • doug
        doug on December 2, 2012, 9:33 pm

        No one would use both a non-standard unit base such as 100MJ/s (or 100MW) together with powers of 10^12 … 10^13. It’s rare enough for someone to even use a non-standard base.

        It really can’t be explained as a typo or a mislabel. It’s just so bad as to be inexplicable.

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