Jeffrey LewisFrank Pabian on Iran, Syria

In a talk at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, Frank Pabian makes really amazing use of GoogleEarth and SketchUp. (There are also a couple of references to the blog, for which I am grateful.)

You can also watch the Q&A:


  1. Allen Thomson (History)

    Money quote: “Nobody followed up.”

    We need to keep that in mind and be somewhat obsessive (in a nice way, of course) about following things up.

  2. Andy (History)

    Yeah, there are quite a few things that haven’t been followed up on. If only I had a grant and more free time….

  3. b (History)

    So Frank Pabian is a hawk.

    Anything else of interest?

  4. mark hibbs (History)

    Jeffrey et Cie:

    I looked at this a couple of times. Very interesting, thanks for posting it. And well-deserved kudos for the blog by Frank.

    I do have an issue.

    I heard Frank saying that the Gchine site in Iran was “entirely clandestine” and wasn’t declared until discovered in Sept. 2004.

    If you look at the IAEA report to the board of governors from Nov. 2004, you will find their wordsmiths saying that in October, 2004—a month after Frank says the site was exposed—the IAEA “carried out complementary access” at the site and was able to “confirm the declared status of these operations”.

    Is this just another case of Mohamed Elbaradei’s front office and super-diplomatic EXPO proofreaders weighing in on Olli Heinonen’s draft report to smooth it out for posterity?

    Frank, are you there? Know the answer to what happened between Sept. and Nov. 2004? Thanks!

  5. mark hibbs (History)


    I think I found it—at one point Frank said “September” but his power point material said “May”. May would fit with a UK parliamentary report from 2006 that says that Iran declared the Gchine site on May 21, 2004 in its additional protocol submittal. Frank’s power points said that NRCI revealed the Gchine site in May. Those are probably correct.

  6. steph (History)


    have you a power point version of Pabian material we can share?

  7. Rwendland (History)

    Is the NCRI, who Frank Pabian keeps mentioning as a good source of information, the same as the “National Council of Resistance of Iran” – designated in 2003 under Executive Order 13224 as an “organization linked to terrorism”?

    Looking at the current E.O. 13224 list I find “MEK a.k.a. NATIONAL COUNCIL OF
    RESISTANCE OF IRAN” still listed as a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist [SDGT] Entity”.

    So do we have here a LANL employee telling us a Designated Global Terrorist Entity is a good (and 90% reliable) source of info on Iran?

  8. Rwendland (History)

    Re Syria: rather a shame that the image Frank Pabian tells us is of a 265MWt Calder Hall Magnox reactor is in reality the 890MWt Oldbury Magnox reactor, using an entirely different pre-stressed concrete pressure vessel design with internal heat exchangers. If this “Senior Infrastructure Analyst” can so easily be a factor of 3.5 out in his image analysis, and miss the fact that a reactor is of a different design, you wonder about the quality of the rest of the analysis.

  9. Josh


    While I don’t entirely agree with Mr. Pabian’s assessment of the reliability of NCRI claims, there does not seem to be any logical connection between the NCRI’s EO 13224 status and how often their factual claims have panned out. It’s a non sequitur. And unless I am missing something, so is Pabian’s choice of an exterior image of a UK Magnox reactor.