Jeffrey LewisDay After Iran’s First Nuclear Test

If you don’t own Michael Light’s 100 Suns, you should.

I keep seeing references to this story, posted on an IRGC website, entitled The Day After the First Iranian Nuclear Test: A Normal Day.

It is a very strange story — a satirical look at the day after an Iranian nuclear test — that is definitely attention getting.

I am not sure, however, that it means anything.

There are a couple of things that jump out at me.

First, and foremost, the website is run by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Cyber Command.  Yeah, that’s weird. The only other mention of this site I can find is in the context of the Green Movement – apparently posted pictures of protestors to aid the security crackdown and came under attack by pro-Green hackers.

While being a Cyber Command-run website doesn’t preclude writing about issues beyond computer security, it is sort of a weird place to muse about the day after Iran’s first nuclear test.  (It does make a complaint by the author about internet pricing seem way less obscure, though.) To put it in perspective, I wonder how different my reaction would be if I saw this piece posted on a website run by Kimia Madaan.

Second, I can’t help but be cautions about interpreting an article with a satirical tone. The device of comparative headlines yields some amusing insights about how Iranians view various news sources.  The author imagines Al Jazeera describing the test as an Islamic bomb, while Saudi-owned Al Arabiya calls it is a Shiite bomb. Only Reuters and CNN give credit to Iran.  Similarly, the Jerusalem Post has a tabloid style headline — “Mullahs obtain nuclear weapon” — while the Washington Post gives equal billing to the test as well as reaction in Israel.  Then there is a dig at a government-run, pro-Ahmadinejad newspaper touting “By the order of the President, Iran tests 100% Iranian atomic bomb”

Humor – especially satire – doesn’t translate easily.  I know, because I tell a lot of jokes to foreign audiences that fall flat.  (What do you mean they aren’t funny in English, either?)  I get some of the jokes in the piece, but I  am also familiar with the dipshits who take The Onion literally. One has to be careful interpreting something like this or risk joining the ranks of the dipshits.

Third, if Iran were about to test a nuclear weapon, the IRGC probably wouldn’t muse about what Thursday was going to be like on a website.  Of course, that is easy for me to say.  I didn’t have to explain to reporters why the US intelligence community missed India’s 1998 nuclear test after a tiny Sikh newsletter in Canada predicted the test a few days in advance.  The official explained that the newsletter was “a rag, full of inaccuracies, quite tendentious [with] a very big ax to grind,” all of which is true.  But I am sure it still wasn’t any fun.

Overall, my impression is that we ought not read too much into this bit of satire.  We already know that, within the Revolutionary Guards, there is a constituency for a nuclear weapon.  To the extent that we have a candidate nuclear weapons program – the  so-called “Project 111” effort led by Mohsen Fakhrizadeh that the US IC believes was “halted” (or paused) in 2003 – that program is affiliated with the IRGC.  And although I interpret AQ Khan’s statements very carefully, he also pins interest in the bomb program on the IRGC.  So, the fact that an IRGC website carries a little satirical number noting that a nuclear weapons might not be such a bad idea is attention grabbing. Still, Iran lacks the fissile material for bomb, which is why lots of us support energetic diplomacy to keep it that way.

On the other hand, this would seem to violate a taboo about discussing the prospect of an Iranian nuclear test.  (I don’t recall a lot of discussions, even satirical, about the prospect of Iranian nuclear weapons or an Iranian nuclear test.  But perhaps I haven’t looked in the right places.)

Iran has a boisterous press with many freedoms, especially for more hawkish views.  The one reason I can imagine for a taboo on discussing a nuclear weapons test would be the much-cited, but never seen infamous fatwa against the development and use of nuclear weapons.  At the very least, this article is surely inconsistent with such a statement.

If there is a fatwa, that is.

I raise this as a real question.  I have my doubts about the fatwa.  But it is also possible that satirical musings on obscure website run by the IRGC geek squad just don’t rise to any level of scrutiny inside Iran  — until seized upon by an over-active Western press titillated by the thought of the Mullah’s bomb.

But maybe, just maybe, what this really tells us is that the fatwa doesn’t constrain Iranian discourse or actions in a significant way.

It’s an open thread, recently pacified by my own little jihad against the trolls.

Have at it.


Here is a link to the original article in Persian on the Gerdab website.

There are a couple of translations floating around  but none is perfect: Julian Borger’s article has long excerpts, but not the full-text.  The MEMRI translation has at least one major mistake.  The Open Source Center has a translation, too, but some helpful reader will have to put that in the comments. Patrick Disney provides a rough translation:

The day after the first Iranian nuclear test: a normal day

The day after the first nuclear test of the Islamic Republic of Iran, for us Iranians will be an ordinary day, but there will be a new sparkle in many of our eyes.

It is a good day. It is seven in the morning. The sun still has not risen completely, but everywhere has already gotten bright. In the northern hemisphere, many countries are beginning the day. Today, the sun rises after the first nuclear test of the Islamic Republic of Iran. It is a very ordinary day!

The day before, likely in the central desert of Iran, a place where once Americans and some western countries wanted to bury their nuclear waste, an underground nuclear explosion has taken place. The power of this explosion was not so strong as to do sever damage to the area, nor was it so weak that Iran’s atomic scientists had problems running their tests.

Today is a normal day and, just like every other day when there is news coming from Iran — which is 90% of the time — one can see headlines such as these in foreign news sites:

Reuters: “Iran explodes its atomic bomb”

CNN: “Iran explodes atomic bomb”

Al-Jazeera: “Second Islamic atomic bomb tested”

Al Arabiya: “Shi’ite atomic bomb exploded”

Yahoo! News: “Atomic explosion in Iran.”

Jerusalem Post: “Mullahs obtain nuclear weapon”

Washington Post: “Atomic explosion in Iran, shock and despair in Tel Aviv”

Of course, domestic news sites also accompany their headlines with congratulations for this outcome to the Imam of the Age and the Supreme Leader, as follows:

Keyhan: “Iran’s first atomic bomb, tested”

Jomhoory-e Islami: “Iran successfully performs a nuclear test”

Iran (government newspaper): “By the order of the President, Iran tests 100% Iranian atomic bomb”

Etella’at: “Iran detonates Iranian atomic bomb years in the making”

Of course, the rest of Iran’s newspapers and websites follow suit, but one cannot print them until it is sure!

The news controversy will not cause normal life in Iran to be disrupted; employees will clock in on time, or occasionally a little late; bakers will bake their high-quality, non-subsidized bread; high speed internet subscriptions will be cut off and extended once again. Even this controversy will not cause the price of internet to get cheaper, nor will IRIB even slightly reconsider all the nonsense in its programming.

The day after the first nuclear test of the Islamic Republic of Iran, for us Iranians will be an ordinary day, but there will be a new sparkle in many of our eyes. A sparkle that is made out of pride and national might.


  1. Ano. N. Ymous (History)

    Whoah, my first though when I saw the headline in my feed reader was “WHAT? HOW ON EARTH DID THIS NEWS ESCAPE ME ON MY COMMUTE THIS MORNING?”

    Sorta relieved to find out it was just talk about some fan fiction that’s getting a bit extra attention in the media…

  2. Anon (History)

    Would not surprise me of the true IP address of this entity “IRGC-CC” was outside Iran.

    To whose benefit is it to fan the flames of Iran having a nuclear bomb?

    Or perhaps it’s Iran’s answer to Seymour Hersch exposing the fact that our DNI does not think Iran has a nuclear weapons program.

    • Murray Anderson (History)

      You could look it up with whois. Here’s an extract:
      remarks: (Domain Holder) Mehran Emami
      remarks: (Domain Holder Address) Hafte Tir Sq., Mofateh St., No.36,, Tehran, Tehran, IR

    • Amy (History)

      He is on facebook if you want to be friends, OMG:

    • Jeffrey (History)

      There may, of course, be more than one Mehran Emami.

    • Anon (History)

      Probably Iran’s answer to Seymour Hersch saying that they don’t have a nuclear weapons program.

    • Anon (History)
    • John Bragg (History)

      Also, we should not assume that the owner of the IP address is the author of the piece. Is the site more like a newspaper, or more like a personal blog? I’d guess the former, with a number of different contributors.

    • Charles (History)

      @Jeffrey – Don’t be so foolish, as if there’s more than one Mehran Emami!

  3. Anon 2 (History)
    • mike (History)

      And apparently originally blogged on april 23

  4. bp (History)

    quote:Jerusalem Post: “Mullahs obtain nuclear weapon”:endquote
    Jeffrey there’s no h in mullah!

    And to be fair, in the original Farsi link it doesn’t even say mullaa, it says akhund, which at least across their eastern borders, is an honorific title for a teacher.

  5. John Bragg (History)

    My uninformed speculation is that this is a trial balloon. Probably by someone in IRGC Cyber Command, a colonel or a captain or a civilian web guy.

    Now, however, once the balloon is floated, the question for higher levels is raised–is this guy wrong? If Iran did test, what bad things would happen to Iran?

    My guess, sadly, is that this guy is right. Iran is the Wookie, and we will Let the Wookie Win.

    • Anon (History)
    • Jeffrey (History)

      You can’t have it both ways. What the DNI said was that Iran had a nuclear weapons program run by the IRGC until 2003 that could be restarted at any time.

    • Anon (History)

      And what he also said was that there is “high confidence” that it is NOT YET restarted. ie. as of a couple of months ago. Is this complicated? Why are there sanctions if there is high confidence of no nuclear weapons program?

      You can’t have it both ways, indeed.

  6. Hass (History)

    “We already know that, within the Revolutionary Guards, there is a constituency for a nuclear weapon” – we “know” no such thing! Rubbish! The Khan statements as reported by Wash Post are third-hand hearsay…from Khan, not exactly a reliable source, and the “Project 111” and “Fakhrizadeh” info is from the unverified (and widely laughed-at” so-called Laptop of Death. Incidentally, it is ridiculous to assume that every article generated in Iran has been vetted and approved by higher-ups and is therefore somehow a reflection of authoritative positions.

  7. hass (History)

    BTW the reference to a “normal day” means “normal” in the sense that even in the wake of an utterly unlikely event, the media in Iran (and elsewhere) will reflect the various competing positions of various in-fighting groups. The article, in short, is not about exploding bombs but a satirical comment about the mostly domestic in-fighting (which is quite normal in Iran, as their constitution creates multiple competing power centers that duke it out in their respective papers)

    • Anon (History)

      The guy from IRGC-CC is clearly some propagandist out to harass street protestors and close down twitter accounts, probably informally paid by the IRGC regime. He may have thought this is fun thing to do. See my link to his phone above.

      Nothing AT ALL to do with official policy.

      For the world’s best information on Iran’s nuclear program see:

    • hass (History)

      I’m not sure if the NIE is the “best info” because 1- We don’t know what NIEs actually say but have to rely on their characterization by a hype-hungry media, and 2- NIEs can be politicized as evidenced by the infamous Iraq NIE and the fact that previous Iran NIEs did a 180-turn without any real explanation, and 3- there is intense political pressure on the intelligence community to come up with intelligence that fits the policy. The whole reason why this satirical article has received so much attention is because the wingnuts have grasped onto it as evidence of their much-touted “Iranian nuclear weapons threat” which has thus far otherwise failed to materialize in any shape or form.

      So instead of concentrating on this article, I’d be interested in the ArmsControlWonk’s opinion of THIS article by former European ambassadors to Iran regarding the nuclear issue:

      …in addition to statements by ElBaradei that Iran was willing on several occasions to limit its enrichment capability to couple hundred centrifuges (thus contradicting the argument that Iran was seeking a “rapid breakout capacity”) but that the US torpedoed the compromise offers and withheld important documents from the IAEA.

    • Anon (History)

      Thank you for that excellent article. I think it is not inconsistent with the 2011 NIE which Clapper describes as saying has a “high confidence” that Iran has not re-started its nuke program.

      It take it you saw Seymour Hersch’s excellent New Yorker piece also.

      Too bad for the West that we cannot legally punish a latent capability or option to weaponize. We should have thought about that before we signed the NPT.

  8. hass (History)

    Oh and btw again — there doesn’t even have to be a fatwa against nuclear weapons for them to be considered “haram.” Causing mass civilian casualties is not something that a cleric needs to pronounce illegal. It is a basic principle. Remember, the Iranians did not respond in-kind to Iraqi chemical weapons use and said they would not do so on religious grounds, even though under international law (as it was at the time) they were entitled to respond in-kind.

    • Ataune (History)


      Even though this doesn’t contradict what you are saying, but there are ample reliable testimonies that Iran’s non-use of CW in response to their use by Iraq was a decision by Khomeini himself. Several public figures have asserted that at the time when the Iraqi CW assaults started, the military people running the war went to the leader and described the dire situation due to the heavy use of mustard and taboun gas by Saddam with some of them even proposing to reply in a same way. Khomeini forcefully forbade the use of WMD in a fatwa which later was renewed by the current leader. This is not to say that a fatwa can not be re-interpreted or rescinded but it is hard to imagine such an important one, being issued by the leader of the revolution himself, to be subject to such a fate. This should be a well known fact by the Western intelligence community.

      It is also good to mention that the Iran-Iraq war was initiated by Saddam Hussein (UNSCR 598 acknowledge that, although obliquely) and at the time, when the Iraqi leadership ordered the use of CW, they were backed by both the Western and soviet block.

    • BP (History)

      Yes hass but you can circumvent this shariah principle by arguing that your bomb is strictly a deterrent. It won’t be used but will keep others from using one on you.

      BTW any and every incendiary weapon, and that includes all bombs, is haraam/impermissible in this shariat. You just can’t burn any living thing. But how do you defend yourself from aggression in this day and age if you decide your military will use no bombs nor cannons nor some kinds of bullets?

  9. Beginner (History)

    It is noteworthy that the story was not written by the IRGC but taken from a private blog:
    Regarding the fatwa: In Shia Islam it is allowed to lie and deceive your enemy in case you or your fellow Shia believers are threatened (a concept known as taqiyya).

  10. Gaukhar (History)

    Jeffrey, as far as I understand (and I welcome Islam experts to correct me), fatwas are not, or at least don’t always have to be, a decree with a stamp. The source you quoted indicates that the fatwa in question was issued during a Friday prayer – meaning, Khamenei pronounced it during the Friday sermon rather than published it. If there is an archive with transcripts of Friday sermons in September 2004 (on OSC?), one can search for such a pronouncement. Unfortunately, I’m a dangerous foreign element and cannot access OSC.

    On the taboo of discussing Iranian nuclearization – seems like talking about the use (value) of WMD wasn’t quite as much a taboo before the revelation of the nuclear program. Note, though, that even this article isn’t talking about how useful NW are, but how it’s not a big deal if Iran were to test one tomorrow.

    All that said, I agree with the commenter above that, if not a smart-ass prank, this might be a trial balloon by someone from within IRGC (not the Corps overall) to see how much protest the idea provokes – or not.

  11. Anon (History)

    The NDU [National Defense University] looked into what would happen if Iran got a nuke in 2005 — not that they currently have a nuclear weapons program according to our DNI, with “high confidence”:

    The study concluded that Iran may have desired nuclear weapons in the past mainly because it felt strategically isolated and that “possession of such weapons would give the regime legitimacy, respectability, and protection.”

    In other words, Iran desired nuclear weapons for the purpose of deterrence, just like every other nuclear-armed nation.

    The NDU study continued, “[W]e judge, and nearly all experts consulted agree, that Iran would not, as a matter of state policy, give up its control of such weapons to terrorist organizations and risk direct U.S. or Israeli retribution.”

    And it said the “United States has options short of war that it could employ to deter a nuclear-armed Iran and dissuade further proliferation.”

  12. mamdali (History)

    Let’s be careful about making the issue of WMDs black and white. WMDs can run the gamut of ability to assemble, pre-assembly, assembly, threaten to use, and actually use. If there is/were a ‘fatwa’this spectrum might have been considered as well.

    As for the gerdab article, another related spin is that even if Iran *did* detonate a test weapon, “how would the world reponse be worse than the present spewing of propaganda. So why not do it?”

  13. MohammadD (History)

    This whole issue is a ridiculous misunderstanding. For more information see my comment on the original Guardian story.
    The blogger (who originally wrote the piece) has noticed this and posted a response, ridiculing the coverage the post has got in the Western media (in Persian). Gerdab has also republished the response, and also posted a short story of its own which I translate below:

    An Iranian Blog Fools “Guardian”
    A post from the Kheyzaran blog which was republished by Gerdab, was covered as Iran’s attempt to obtain nuclear weapons by some Western media.

    A satirical post by an Iranian blogger which the “Gerdab” website linked to, has been depicted by the British newspaper Guardian as evidence of overt attempt by the Islamic Republic to obtain nuclear weapons.
    Gerdab reports (quoting Nasim [an Iranian news site]) that the newspaper, reacting to a post from a Persian blog which was published under the title “The Day After Iran’s First Nuclear Test is a Totally Normal Day”, has reported “breaking a taboo in a bizarre article on a Revolutionary Guard website by anticipating the impact of an Iranian nuclear bomb”.
    The Gerdab website is affiliated with the Center for Investigation of Organized Crimes. This center is one of the subsidiaries of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps Cyber Command.

  14. masoud (History)

    Jeff, I hate to ruin all the excitement, but this is nothing more than gerdab re-posting an interesting blog entry in it’s capacity as a blog aggregator.

    The original link is difficult to post because it uses farsi unicode characters in the URL, but you can click the first link in this google search page, that should take you to the original in kheyzar online.

    With regards to ‘Never have seen the Fatwa’, what exactly would you expect it to look like? And where do you think it might be hidden?

    This is a bit like saying ‘I’ve never seen the Brown Vs. Board Of Education supreme court ruling, so maybe separate but equal is still legal in the south’

    Secret Fatwa’s are a contradiction in terms.

    It is well known that the absolute illegality Nuclear Weapons is Ali Khameini position and that no cleric of any standing has as yet issued an opposing verdict.

    Anyone want to comment on the Imaging Satelite just launched?

  15. masoud (History)

    I remember years ago less than 20% of the Iranian population approved of Iran developing a bomb. Thanks to the Obama administration that number is now over 50. Iran’s government is light years ahead of it’s people on this issue. That said, I think this 50% figure still makes it either the least or the second least(After Saudi Arabia) enthusiastic proponent of an Iranian nuke(not counting Israel). In pakistan, over 90% of people welcome the prospect of an Iranian Bomb. I think the number for the Middle East as a whole is something like 80%.

    Iran is also a very diverse place with vibrant discussions in all policy areas. It is also something like the third most common language used on the web. This is not the first blog that is enthusiastic about Nukes and certainly won’t be the last.

  16. masoud (History)

    And while I’m trolling, let me add this: Do yourself and everyone else a favor and lay off of MEMRI. It was founded by a supposedly retired General in Israel’s intelligence service, and making the Goyim of the middle east look Evil is it’s mission statement.

    MEMRI is to the Middle East what the Jerry Springer Show is to normal people.

    [Note: Masoud is being satirical. The MEMRI mission statement claims the organization was founded “to inform the debate over U.S. policy in the Middle East.” You can make of that what you will. JGL]

  17. Anon (History)

    The imaging satellite just launched is needed for earthquake recovery efforts. It is a great achievement and underscores the uselessness of sanctions.

    Make that counter-productivity of sanctions.

    Because of sanctions, now the Iranians have a smart domestic technological base.

  18. masoud (History)

    Really, Jeff? MEMRI is off limits? That’s what I call a thin skin.

    If that is the case, it’s a bit weird of you to reference them in the first place.

    I’m not going to say anything more about them in this post, but here is a ‘cruise missile leftist’ middle east scholar Juan Cole on one of his experiences with the group:

    • Jeffrey (History)

      No, it was the “goyim” comment. I unapproved it, until I had time to read it carefully. (Sometimes posters leave little anti-semitic comments in a kind code-language that I don’t catch until someone else points it out. So I usually take more time with any kind of loose language like that, especially when I have to look up words like “goyim.”)

      Have at MEMRI. They drive me nuts sometimes.

    • Jeffrey (History)

      It would be weird not to mention the most commonly cited translation. Note that I went through the trouble to get another translation for posting on the blog.

    • masoud (History)

      I have to admit for a second I was wondering if my original comment was censored because you are an in the closet Jerry Springer fan.

      I actually didn’t see that second translation in the post originally. Good effort.

      But the big problem with MEMRI generally speaking isn’t that their translations are inaccurate, although they frequently are. The problem is they very selectively choose the material they choose to translate and highlight. The material is politically chosen to push for a certain type of policy from Washington, analogous to say, Pat Robertson of the 700 club using Jerry Springer to discuss the state of the American family.

      The general rule of thumb is, if MEMRI takes the time out to translate something, it’s not worth your time to bother reading, or posting, it.

  19. masoud (History)


    Give Jeff a little credit. I mean it’s not like he went all Fox news with it. He was expressed scepticsm and said ‘it might not mean anything’.

    Despite these instincts, he then did go on to make some unfounded innuendos. But i’d say he did much better than most people who get the bulk their information about Iran from the MSM and MEMRI

    I would also say he has a creative idea of what an ‘Open Thread’ is.

    • Jeffrey (History)

      For the record, I wrote:

      “I raise this as a real question. I have my doubts about the fatwa. But it is also possible that satirical musings on obscure website run by the IRGC geek squad just don’t rise to any level of scrutiny inside Iran — until seized upon by an over-active Western press titillated by the thought of the Mullah’s bomb.

      But maybe, just maybe, what this really tells us is that the fatwa doesn’t constrain Iranian discourse or actions in a significant way.”

      I am still waiting for a non-sarcastic answer (with the exception of Gaukhar’s comment) to a serious and genuine question about whether a fatwa proscribing the production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons would constrain discourse on a nuclear weapons program in Iran.

  20. Gaukhar (History)

    Jeffrey, observing the commentfest that erupted here over the past couple of hours , I wonder why my earlier comment is “awaiting moderation.” Just sayin’.

    • Jeffrey (History)

      Because you don’t comment enough to be recognized by the site as a frequent commentator (so your default is unapproved.)

  21. Pirouz (History)

    Masoud, thanks for the better direction toward the original source.

    I had earlier provided the link and it didn’t pass comment moderation. I wondered why.

    • Jeffrey (History)

      The default is not to approve comments unless individuals have a prior posting history. There was nothing wrong with the original comment, I’ve just been traveling back from South Korea for the past 24 hours.

  22. Magoo (History)

    Thank you for bringing this rather lively, though rudderless, exchange into perspective. I have no quarrel with Jeffrey’s illuminating ruminations on the international reactions to the Gerdab article. However, its pointless ascribing situations based on an anonymous rendering leading to questioning unrelated events such as, ‘SSBN’s warming up D-5 missiles’, ‘short war scenario’, and other hype instilling ideas that avoid the necessary stages for logical analysis.
    Its not a question of being skeptical, but there is no way that the IRGC would put out such a piece that – if found authentic – would be a ‘red rag’ to the raging bull in Washington. Are we then viewing a ‘False Flag’ operation to stir the pot?

    • Anon (History)

      Indeed. see the first comment: “To whose benefit is it to fan the flames of Iran having a nuclear bomb?

      Or perhaps it’s Iran’s answer to Seymour Hersch exposing the fact that our DNI does not think Iran has a nuclear weapons program.”

      But I buy the satire angle. see Mohammed’s post above.

  23. kheyzaran (History)

    what you wrote here is wondering me!

    I am the writer of original post “Day After Iran’s First Nuclear Test” first published in my blog

    about 2 months ago, i was so angry about sanctions and their effects on internet price and quality in Iran, so i thought the reason of this sanctions is our peaceful nuclear program. Then i thought until End of The Days, west parties continue their sanctions and it’s better for us to build a nuclear bomb and put an End to any thing like India.

    That was the only reason! Gerdab likes my posts and republished some of them before. They publish this post but after 2 months, Guardian post an article about IRGC website who promote nuclear bomb! so funny!

    many sites wrote about what Gaurdian wrote in their ways but this article you wrote here, has something more that i like.

    you Wrote:

    “Second, I can’t help but be cautions about interpreting an article with a satirical tone. The device of comparative headlines yields some amusing insights about how Iranians view various news sources. The author imagines Al Jazeera describing the test as an Islamic bomb, while Saudi-owned Al Arabiya calls it is a Shiite bomb. Only Reuters and CNN give credit to Iran. Similarly, the Jerusalem Post has a tabloid style headline — “Mullahs obtain nuclear weapon” — while the Washington Post gives equal billing to the test as well as reaction in Israel. Then there is a dig at a government-run, pro-Ahmadinejad newspaper touting “By the order of the President, Iran tests 100% Iranian atomic bomb”

    My goal from writing this program was showing the differences between medias to cover Iran’s news. I am a journalists and these differences is interesting for me.

    However, disputes arose about my article were not true. so analyze it with full brain ability 🙂

    Do not forget we are at Iran (except me!) are clever people and what we think, is not simply discoverable.

    P.s: I’ll write about these article on my English bog

  24. Anon (History)

    Anyone have trajectory info on the sat launch from Iran? Which way did she go?

    Anyone know of any blogs following this??

  25. Julian Borger (History)

    This is an update to my original blog on this:

    • Anon (History)

      I liked this comment: “How newsworthy! At least he’s not pretending to be a lesbian north korean.”

      The reason I believe it was allowed to stand in a highly policed web environment is that the IRGC is, shall we say, slightly more right-wing than even most Iranian polity and would love the negative attention. Especially in light of Seymour Hersch deflating their balloon about their non-existent nuclear weapons program. Something the IRGC — not the main Iranian govt — would probably like to have.

  26. masoud (History)

    Well on the subject of the Satellite launch. We have a helpful animation and explanation for Farsi speakers by Defense Minister Vahidi:

    I found the separation from the second stage interesting. It is depicted as leaving the second stage with a significant spin, but subsequently stabilizing itself for it by extending what looks like an antenna.

    Geoff caught a mistake in a similar animation created for the Omid where the retro rockets were fired before the first stage was finished it’s burn. It’s been corrected over here.

    This seems to be something of a ‘Practice Sattelite’ for the Iranians to get their footing on before they launch the Fajr.(reportedly scheduled for this Fall)

  27. masoud (History)

    The man mentions that the Rasaad can ‘adjust it’s timing’ with either passively with a ‘gradient boom’ or actively with ‘magnetic rotation’, whatever that’s supposed to mean.

    • John Schilling (History)

      That would seem to refer to the spacecraft’s method of attitude control, a combination of gravity gradient stabilization and magnetic torque rods.

      The former consists of incorporating a long-ish boom with a counterweight (hopefully something functional, e.g. batteries) to the spacecraft. This will interact with the Earth’s gravitational gradient to maintain the spacecraft in a roughly “vertical” orientation, good for e.g. keeping cameras and antennae pointed roughly towards the ground. Possible problem in that the upside-down position is just as stable as right-side-up, so you’d like a backup…

      Magnetic torque rods, are about what the name would imply – rod-type electromagnets like the ones you made in grade-school science class, which in this case will try to align themselves with the Earth’s magnetic field as would a compass needle. Use three orthogonal torque rods, apply current as needed, and you can slew the spacecraft at will. Well, sort of at will, coarsely, as limited by the strength and orientation of the geomagnetic field.

      The combination of gravity gradient and magnetic torque rod attitude control is a cheap, simple way of providing basic attitude control and stabilization to a satellite in Low Earth Orbit, and entirely appropriate to what the Iranians are trying to do. When they get that working, I would expect them to graduate to reaction wheels and/or small thrusters.

  28. masoud (History)

    Thanks Josh.
    I think that Gradient boom would be what was portrayed as retracting after separation in the animation. The Sattelite is said to be equipped with solar panels, though it’s life expectancy is projected as two months.

    There is also a screen grab of the software used to track control the satellite. It points out the locations of three separate radio stations located as far away from each other as possible inside Iran used to triangulate the satellites position. I wonder if just three stations would enough. And if the same method is used to guide ballistic missiles.

    • Anon (History)

      Mohammed, Probably all Western names sound the same to you, but the dude’s name is “John”


    • masoud (History)


      My apologies to John.

  29. Anon (History)

    UCS has a blog post on the sat:


    Given that the “crazy irrational” Iranians have evidently thought thru the gravity gradient and magnetic torquers stabilization and launched a bonefide satellite this should be seen as genuine space launch and not just a trial for an ICBM.

  30. masoud (History)

    Hi Jefferey,

    The Fatwa definitely exists. And it bans the production and use of Nuclear Weapons. I haven’t been able to find it in the past ten minutes. I did find this which is more of a general position:

    If you really want to see it, I’ll try looking for it again. Did you want to read it in English or do you want to examine the Farsi?

    Might be fun to ask him yourself over here:

    As to your question about discussions: Once the Rahbar lays down the law about a matter like this, that is the end of open policy discussions within government circles. There may be quiet, private discussions between people in an unofficial capacity, or top military planners may bring the matter directly with the Rahbar. But that’s it, and we would never hear of either.

    I wouldn’t expect to see any dissenting voices at all in Radio/TV.

    Newspapers are more flexible, and you might be able to get away with advocacy of Nuclear Weapons there, depending on how you word what you say. You would be well advised not to personalize the ruling and ‘call him out’. You could however wonder aloud whether recent world events have changed the moral calculus or the moral assumptions underpinning Khameni’s original ruling.

    Books and professional journals are more flexible than that.

    Appropriate wording would let you get your point across to an audience if you were giving a speech somewhere.

    Blogs are almost completely uncontrolled. Iran’s online filtering is a mess(it’s somewhere between China and Australia), but the vast vast majority of the stuff they ban relates to pornography. You could say nearly anything you like online.

    Clerics issuing their rulings or giving speeches on the matter would in no way or form be restricted in what they say.(Of course this privilege scales with ‘seniority’ and if they attack Khameini personally, they will be subject to punishment, which will also depend on their ‘seniority’, e.g. ‘stripping of rank’ confined to house arrest for a while).

    • hass (History)

      While the official stance is made clear by the fatwa, individuals in Iran are perfectly free to ruminate and discuss other options, and indeed recent polling data shows that Iranians themselves would actually favor the development of nuclear weapons. This is contrast with past polling data. How’s them sanctions working out for you, Obama?

    • Jeffrey (History)

      I’ll take the fatwa in Farsi/Persian. I have plenty of Iranian friends who can help with a translation.

      Thanks for your description of the likely impacts of a fatwa. This is the discussion I am hoping to encourage.

      Despite the fact that I keep getting flamed by the Iranian Cyber Brigade and am banned from the IAEA Daily Press Review thanks to the Islamic Republic, I think I am one of the few Americans left who believes there is a sliver of hope that this can end without either an Iranian bomb or bombing Iran. Just a sliver, though.

    • Anon (History)

      Why would you think there is just a sliver of a hope that it will end w/o an Iranian bomb, when our DNI is saying that Iran has not yet re-started it’s nuclear weapons program which was suspended in 2003-4 ?

      I think there is very high probability that Iran will not make a bomb ever, or for decades, but will maintain itself at the red-line allowed by the NPT?

    • John Schilling (History)

      The DNI is a politician in charge of a contingent of spies; what he says in public will have only a coincidental relationship with the truth. And that’s not a criticism, merely an indication that the man is doing his job.

      Nor does it mean that there’s no point in listening to his public statements. However distant from the truth, they will usually be pretty closely correlated with policy. If the DNI says that (hypothetically speaking) Iraq has a vast arsenal of WMD but that Iran isn’t even trying to build an atomic bomb, it’s a pretty good bet that we will be bombing Iraq real soon and Iran not for at least a year or two. That’s useful information, even if it tells you nothing about who actually is or isn’t building nukes.

    • Hairs (History)


      I can’t see why Iran wouldn’t make a bomb if it could. Perhaps I’m being too simplistic but what I see is:

      * Israel has nuclear weapons and hasn’t been invaded (or had its existence seriously threatened) since it acquired them.
      * North Korea has nuclear weapons and hasn’t been invaded, despite being every bit as odious and dangerous on the world stage as Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya – all of whom do not have nuclear weapons. (In fact didn’t Libya give up an embryonic nuclear programme a few years ago?)
      * Ditto the invasions of Granada, Panama, Chechnya, Lebanon and probably half a dozen other places I’ve either forgotten or never even heard of, all of whom couldn’t have prevented being overrun unless through the use of WMDs.
      * Even Cuba saw the Bay of Pigs attempted invasion in 1961, and then in 1962 the quid pro quo (as I understand it) resolving the missle crisis was that the USSR would not station nuclear missiles in Cuba in return for USA not invading and also for the USA withdrawing some weapons from Turkey.

      I’m not trying to pass comment on the justification or otherwise of the invasions, just noting that if you’re the head of a state that’s not very popular with the neighbours or on the world stage then the lesson seems to be that if you have nuclear weapons you’re not invaded, but if you don’t then you are.

      Sure the reality is vastly more complicated, and probably beyond my knowledge and understanding, but at its most basic why would the Iranians NOT look at the relative situations of Israel, Iraq and Afghanistan, and then build a weapon if they can?

      Having got on my soapbox, I think the sliver of hope Jeffrey refers to will have to be built of something more appetising and constructive than the current, “If you don’t develop or build it then we’ll agree not to bomb you (…for now, although we reserve the right to invade you later if it suits our fancy).”

      Frankly, the more I read of the on-off discussions with Iran the more inclined I am to sympathise with the Iranian position. The whole stand-off reminds me of Aesop’s fable about the wind and the sun arguing over who is the stronger; I’d just like to think the West’s sliver of hope rests on being more like the sun than the wind.

    • Anon (History)

      John and Hairs,
      I still think the the classified NIE provides the best insight into what is and is not going on in Iran that the West has.

      Now we do not have access to the classified version but that the DNI can say that he has a “high confidence” that Iran has not re-started its moth-balled weapons program ca. 2003-4 tells us something useful.

      He did not have to use the words “high confidence”

      I think the Iranian know they can have some of the same deterrence benefits by having a bomb _capability_ and stay this side of the red-line. And that will give them some confidence that they would likely not get bombed.

      I do think there is some cost-benefit analysis going on Tehran and not a mad rush to a bomb. It is a mad rush to the red-line of the NPT.

      But too bad that the NPT is written the way it is. That’s the f’ed up thing about law.

    • masoud (History)

      Banned from the IAEA Daily Press Review? Why would that happen? Do you think the IRI is behind that, or are placing the blame on the comments?

      As for the flaming, you know the old saying: If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen.

      An open forum widely referenced in the media like the one you’ve created here is an open challenge to all and sundry to correct some of the more egregious misunderstandings that are at times repeated(and sometimes even seem to originate) here.

      While were on the subject, you’ve recently removed a comment i made here after it was up for two days that I can’t find a problem with. It’s your house, but some kind of guide as to what is and isn’t allowed would be appreciated.

      As for the Fatwa: I’m having trouble finding a copy of it online. Mujtahids like Khameini periodically put out encyclopedia length volumes of collections of Fatwas. It would definitely be in there. I’ve asked for help in tracking it down. I’ll keep you posted.

    • Jeffrey (History)

      The Iranians have told the IAEA no Albright, Pollack, Lewis or Hibbs in the DPR — nominally because David and I post the IAEA DG Safeguards Implementation report. Not sure what Mark or Josh did.

      I’ll look to see if what the censored comment is.

      [I looked. You were goading me. “My beloved anonymous officials” my ass. I don’t have to stay out the kitchen. I can just turn the heat down when I feel like it.]

    • masoud (History)

      As for the Intelligence Estimates, of course they are political. The evidence that Iraq had WMD was of course cooked. Just as the today’s ‘suspicions’ that Iran had a Nuke program prior to 2003 are. These are simply political stands taken by the Intelligence Community to give the White House political cover for whatever it wants to do.

      After the Iraq fiasco(the fiasco being the US being frustrated strategically, not the hundreds of thousands of deaths it caused), the Administration and Media Establishment hypocritically pointed the finger at ‘Faulty Intelligence’. The intelligence community doesn’t want to be blamed for something like that again. The intelligence estimate reflects a compromise with the Administration. They will agree that Iranians are the bad guys, but they are not going to take the blame for another War in the Middle East. If the White House wants that, it will simply have to make clear to everyone that Iran is to be a War Of Choice. Of course if there were any real danger form either Iran or Iraq, the CIA would be to averse to the possibility of not ‘seeing it coming’ to keep silent about it.

      Does Iran have Nuclear Weapons program? Wikileaks is more instructive on this than the NIE. When top diplomats talk to top Israeli military analysts like Amos Gilad, and he informs them that as far as they know, the Iranian still haven’t taken a decision to weaponise, and the Americans don’t so much as lift an eyebrow at him, this should tell people that not only is Iran not pursuing a weapons program, but that Western nations know that Iran is not pursuing a weapons program, their calls for ‘restoration of confidence’ notwithstanding.

    • Anon (History)

      For the love of Buddah, the 2011 NIE is CLASSIFIED — so there is very very very very little reason for it to be politicized.

      The 2007 may have been, but I doubt it.

      I think the IC learned its lesson with the Iraq NIE and purged the politicos from influence thenceforth.

      Also, the 2011 NIE says there is NO EVIDENCE that Iran re-started its moth-balled incipient nuclear weapons program which ended 2003-4.

      Please see what the DNI said ABOUT the 2011 NIE:


      “Senator Levin, during the questions, got Clapper to confirm that the intelligence community has a “high level of confidence” that Iran “as not made a decision as of this point to restart its nuclear weapons program” “

    • John Schilling (History)

      Anon: “For the love of Buddah, the 2011 NIE is CLASSIFIED”

      Followed shortly by, “Also, the 2011 NIE says…”

      As a general rule, it is not a good idea to post what you claim are the contents of a classified document in a public forum. That tends to get you arrested, or laughed at, or both.

      More specifically, the 2011 NIE and the various public statements about and summaries of the 2011 NIE are two entirely different things. The actual 2011 NIE is a classified document, the contents of which we do not know, which I agree probably does contain a fairly accurate assessment of the state of Iran’s nuclear arms program.

      Official public statements regarding the NIE, including those of the DNI, contain a list of talking points that the executive branch of the US government would like to shape public debate over Iran’s nuclear arms program. Again, having only a coincidental relationship with the truth. If these people are any good at their jobs, they can arrange for the unclassified summary to convey pretty much the opposite message as the actual NIE without either of them containing an outright lie, but if they need to, they will outright lie.

      And yes, they will proclaim equally high levels of confidence in their lies, half-truths, and honest truths. If you think you can identify the liars because they are the ones hedging there statements with disclaimers, you’ve got no future on either side of the lying business.

    • Jeffrey (History)

      I am not quite that cynical. In my experience, it is rare, though not unheard of, for public officials to lie. That said, it happened a couple of weeks ago in another case. So, caution is always warranted.

      In this case, I observed in the “Clapper on the NIE” post that there were two stories summarized the 2011 NIE. One by Adam Entous in the Wall Street Journal and another by Greg Miller and Joby Warrick in the Washington Post. These two stories present, as you predicted, radically different views of what the document actually says. For example:

      “The bottom line is that the intelligence community has concluded that there’s an intense debate inside the Iranian regime on the question of whether or not to move toward a nuclear bomb,” a U.S. official said. “There’s a strong sense that a number of Iranian regime officials know that the sanctions are having a serious effect.”

      “After 2003 the program went to ground,” said a senior administration official who has reviewed the latest estimate. But even while that military-backed project remains shuttered, the official said, the effort “became not a single program but multiple programs farmed out to universities and private companies. What research is being carried out, and to what end, is now much harder to pin down.”

      I am led to believe that Miller and Warrick, which is the latter quote, is the more accurate of the two descriptions, which is not surprising since both are first class reporters. (That isn’t to say that Entous isn’t, just that Miller and Warrick have a demonstrated track record on things like this.)


    • John Schilling (History)

      Hairs: “I can’t see why Iran wouldn’t make a bomb if it could.”

      Possible reasons include,

      1a. Fear that having nuclear weapons will serve to provoke rather than deter a nuclear war – North Korea is only one data point to the contrary, and the Norks are actually pretty good at not getting in full-scale wars with their neighbors (none of whom are Israel)

      1b. Fear that developing nuclear weapons will serve to provoke a war, before a deterrent arsenal is in place

      2a. Belief that nuclear ambiguity provides equivalent deterrence at less cost and risk

      2b. Sincere desire for nuclear weapons, but the things are turning out to be damned expensive to develop covertly and maybe they should settle for less

      3. Desire to trade away a nuclear weapons program, verifiably, in exchange for really big diplomatic concessions in the future (e.g. Iraq and Bahrain as de facto Iranian protectorates?)

      4. Lack of delivery systems capable of reaching CONUS or penetrating Israeli missile defenses, and perception that a small arsenal of short-range nuclear weapons doesn’t change the strategic balance

      5. Actual sincere religious objection to nuclear weapons.

      I will wager that Iran deploys actual nuclear weapons by the end of the decade, probably even explodes one. But it is not from a sure thing.

      I will also note that in 1944, the Nazis had the recipe for three varieties of nerve gas, production facilities for at least one, and a couple of essentially unstoppable delivery systems. That is a recipe for the most devastatingly lethal weapon on the planet at the time. Yet they allowed Germany to be utterly defeated, without even trying to weaponize the combination. I believe this is was due to a variation on my reasons 1 and 5 (will just piss off the Allies even more, and to a soldier of the Great War “Thou shalt not gas thy fellow human being” is pretty much the first commandment).

      But whatever the reason, there is precedent for a nation eschewing a “nuclear program” in spite of a much more compelling need for a deterrent than Iran faces.

    • Jeffrey (History)

      Sweden, for instance.

      Where’s Persbo?

    • masoud (History)

      Not to put too fine a point on it Jeff, but it does give me the giggles to see you on the one hand complain about being censored from the IAEA Daily Press thing-a-majig, but in the same breath justify the casual censorship going on in your own shop.

    • Anon (History)

      I actually agree that Iran may well have had a research program into nuclear weapons before 2004. According to the DNI that has been shuttered and not re-started. I think all the evidence points to no diversion of nuclear material and no evidence of an on-going race to the bomb.

      It may be a race to the red-line of the NPT. But that is not illegal.

    • John Schilling (History)

      It is quite possible that Entous, Miller and Warrick are all correct on the facts – Iran shut down its centralized, military nuclear weapons development program in 2003, subsequently established multiple small programs each tackling one facet of the bomb-making process, and is now engaged in an intense debate over whether to put those pieces together into an actual bomb. This is, I think, a fairly likely hypothesis.

      And I agree that it is rare for public officials to actually lie. There is rarely a need for such, when this sort of selectivity in which truths to reveal and what language to use will have approximately the same effect. Outright lies are usually the mark of incompetence, occasionally forced by circumstance, and just common enough to frustrate outside observers. But then, if we could trust someone like the DNI to give us the facts, sound analysis, and the resulting truth, there would be little for us to talk about here…

  31. Anon (History)

    From the writer of the post that started this dumb-bomb of a story:

    “About two months ago, i wrote a post in my Persian blog with this title: ‘The day after Iran’s first nuclear test is a normal day’ A day after publishing this post, An IRGC website called Gerdab link this post like some of my previous posts.

    The real story begun 2 months after publishing the post, when Gaurdian writer, Julian Borger wrote an article about this post and said maybe this is a tactical mover by IRGC to promote making nuclear bomb in Iran.

    As i am the original writer of the post, i know this is not true and may be arose by misunderstanding the of Gerdab in cyber space.”

    Let’s put it this way: this guy was like the Heritage Foundation blog in the US.

    Case closed.

  32. Anon (History)

    I think the editing of the comments’ timestamps/deletion is leading to some weirdness. Just fyi.

  33. Anon (History)

    FYI from Belfer:


    Moderate the rhetoric on limiting enrichment and reprocessing transfers. It makes more sense for the U.S. and others to offer attractive alternatives to new nuclear states than to propose arrangements that seek to deny what countries consider their sovereign rights.
    Strengthen nonproliferation measures within the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). The NSG should adopt new guidelines that offer greater specificity in the rules governing transfers of enrichment and reprocessing. Members should also register their commitments to promote access to nuclear energy to those states that are in compliance with their NPT obligations.”