Arms Control Wonk

Aaron and Jeffrey return to the topic to discuss the potential for a New Start extension and what it could mean for the future of the US-Russian relationship.

 

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Direct download: 109.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:05am EDT

US Ambassador to NATO, Kay Bailey Hutchinson, made some news. And not in a good way. She was trying to say that the US would develop countervailing capabilities -- something that started under the Obama Administration and that almost no one disagrees with.

But she mangled the quote and, in doing so, reinforced Russian paranoia about decapitation. The US and Russia seemed determined to relive the horrors of the early 1980s, albeit on accident. Find out why.

 

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Direct download: 110.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:05pm EDT

Andrea is joined again by John Hemmings, Director of Asia Studies at the Henry Jackson Society, to talk about the major developments in North Korea relations during September. They consider Pyongyang’s tamer military parade, examine the optics and outcomes of Moon Jae-in’s trip to North Korea, and look at the way those outcomes are being communicated to the international community at the UN General Assembly.

 

Links of Note:

DPRK’s English version of the Pyongyang declaration

Moon Jae-in’s speech to the 73rd UN General Assembly. 

Joint report on the negotiating situation from the Henry Jackson Society, King’s College London, and the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS).

Full text of the criminal complaint against North Korean hacker Park Jin Hyok.

Hamish Macdonald with all of the happenings at the 8th Rason trade exhibition.

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Direct download: 108.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EDT

Andrea discusses friction between Europe and the United States over the Iran nuclear deal with Justine Walker, Director of Sanctions at UK Finance. They review European engagement in the Iranian market over the last two years, consider the EU’s reaction to Trump’s withdrawal from the agreement, and examine the implications for companies now caught between two sets of opposing laws. 

 

Links of Note:

Full transcript of Trump’s speech announcing withdrawal from the JCPOA.

US Treasury FAQ on the reimposition of sanctions on Iran.

Daimler abandoning its Iran expansion plans.

UK Finance publications on the EU blocking regulations, Iran, and other sanctions issues.

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Direct download: 107.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:30am EDT

In today’s episode, Aaron and Jeffrey discuss the 2020 Commission and its relationship with how we are conditioned to think about nuclear weapons. The podcast is filled with spoilers (you’ve been warned), but attempts to use the book — and one of the main characters, President Donald Trump — to discuss nuclear war, American nuclear policy, the rationality of fictional North Korean actions, and the tragedy that would follow any use of the bomb.

We also take the time to discuss our new subscriber benefit, Brilliant Pebbles, a mini-pod about the wide world of weapons of mass destruction. The show will drop every Tuesday and will feature short takes on relevant topics that we would not normally discussing on the big show. 

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!
Direct download: 106.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:35am EDT

In today’s podcast, Aaron and Jeffrey discuss the geolocation work that underpinned Jeffrey’s research for his novel and how open source investigations can be leveraged to inform analysis.

Links of Note:

Previous Arms Control Wonk Podcast episodes on South Korea's missile arsenal:

South Korea's Missile Arsenal Expands

The Hyunmoo-2C: South Korea's 800km Missile

Jeffrey's new book, The 2020 Commission Report on the North Korean Nuclear Attacks Against the United States - A Speculative Novel, can be purchased here!

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

Direct download: 105.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:03am EDT

It's a family pod today!

Andrea, Aaron, and Jeffrey review July's new North Korean developments. They dive into the developments at Sohae Satellite Launching Grounds, sanctions enforcement, and the repatriation of POW/KIA remains from the Korean War. 

Links of Note:

Treasury's press release of sanctions ordered against the Russian Agrosoyuz Commercial Bank.

Imagery analysis from 38 North of the dismantling of the engine test stand and covered rail transfer station at Sohae. 

Paul Boudreau's Juche Bird cocktail!

Jeffrey's new novel, The 2020 Commission Report on the North Korean Nuclear Attacks Against the United States.

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

Direct download: 104.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:19pm EDT

Ellen Nakashima and Joby Warrick have a bombshell story about North
Korea producing one, possible two, Hwasong-15 ICBMs at its Sanumdong
facility.  Aaron and Jeffrey discuss the role that MIIS and open
source played in corroborating the report.

This episode brought to you by Jeffrey's new novel, The 2020 Commission Report.

 

Links of Note:

Ellen Nakashima and Joby Warrick's article in the Washington Post about ICBM production at Sanum-Dong.

Ankit Panda's Diplomat article on continuing ICBM production in North Korea.

Jeffrey's new book, The 2020 Commission Report on the North Korean Nuclear Attacks Against the United States - A Speculative Novel, can be preordered here!

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

Direct download: 103.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:30pm EDT

KANGSON

We have the (probable) location of North Korea's original enrichment site: Kangson, now called Chollima. This is probably the spot where the DPRK has been enriching uranium since the early 2000's, which has previously not been openly identified! 


Jeffrey, Grace Liu, and Dave Schmerler combed over information dropped by friend-of-the-pod Ankit Panda.

Jeffrey, Aaron, and Scott talk about this old, newly discovered site, the history of North Korean enrichment tracking, and the difficulty in tracking major proliferation concerns.

Links of Note:

Ankit's bombshell article in The Diplomat about Kangson.

Geo4NonPro, The CNS/MIIS crowd-sourced satellite imagery analysis project.

Jeffrey's new novel, The 2020 Commission Report on the North Korean Nuclear Attacks Against the United States.

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

Direct download: 102.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:38pm EDT

A Canadian reviews the last month’s news with two special guests.

Andrea talks to CNS Senior Research Associate Melissa Hanham and FAS Adjunct Fellow Ankit Panda as they go through the trajectory of U.S./DPRK diplomacy after the Singapore Summit, parse through the differences between U.S and DPRK public statements, and developments within the U.S./ROK Alliance.

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Links of Note

 NBC report on North Korea's additional enrichment sites and increased nuclear activity.

Ankit's article in The Diplomat about the DPRK's additional missile TEL production in 2018.

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Direct download: 101.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:34pm EDT

Jeffrey spent the past week making Singapore Slings but it didn't help dull the pain.
 
The conversation then turned to the summit and ended with a conversation about the sustainability of summits without substance and what the two sides can do in the future to settle on an actual agenda for talks.
 
Jeffrey and Aaron commiserate over the complete goat rodeo that played out, including the Joint Statement, Trump's wild presser, and KCNA's excellent trolling of John Bolton.
 
 
Links of Note:
 
Full text of the joint statement between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un.
 
The weird movie that the U.S. team showed the DPRK team and the on-site journalists.

Kim Jong Un shaking John Bolton's hand on KCNA.
 
 
Scott wrote an article over at the blog about the "missile engine test stand." Dave Schmerler also wrote a twitter thread on it.
 
Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!
 
 
Direct download: 100.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:10pm EDT

Back in March, Putin said that Russia has been testing a nuclear-powered cruise missile and showed a little bit of video footage. Throughout April and May, stories have come out questioning the success of these tests.

Jeffrey and his team at CNS have been peaking into the test site and trying to figure out what is actually going on.  

Jeffrey and Aaron discuss using satellite images to geolocate the launch site and what that tells about the state of the program.

Links of Note:

The Gertz piece on the possibly failed tests. 

The CNBC piece on the testing regime's successes and failures.

Previous Arms Control Wonk Podcast episode on Putin's new cruise missile and other nuclear weapons. 

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

Direct download: 99.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:42am EDT

This is a full end-to-end OSINT episode, buckle up. 

Using satellite imagery, SAR data, Farsi-language television coverage, one rocket scientist's favorite color, and one very important box, the team at CNS/MIIS tracked down a second solid-propellant rocket production facility in Iran.

We suspect it may be moving towards ICBM research. 

Scott ventures out to California to join Jeffrey and Dave Schmerler in person to talk about Shahrud, the history of the Iranian missile program, and one very eccentric military scientist. 

 

Links of Note:

New York Times coverage of the Shahrud research

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Direct download: 98.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:51am EDT

A Canadian reviews the last month’s news with a special guest. Andrea talks to Hamish Macdonald from NK News about what went boom at Punggye-ri, recaps the diplomatic rollercoaster ride that was May, and ponders the Max Thunder joint military exercises (during an actual thunderstorm).

 Links of note: 

Will Ripley’s Instagram snaps from his visit to Wonsan and Punggye-ri.

North Korea takes issue with the Max Thunder joint air drills.

Press statement by First Vice Minister Kim Kye Gwan, telling the US he’s not so into Bolton

Text of Trump’s letter to “His Excellency” Kim Jong Un, (maybe) cancelling the planned summit

North Korea keeps doing those pesky ship-to-ship transfers.

North Korean vessels showing up at Chinese coal ports, again….

Our new report on North Korean companies active in the global IT sector.

 

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Direct download: 97.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:34am EDT

What is going on with the Trump-Kim summit following the recent cancellation of a DPRK-ROK meeting?

Will Trump and Kim meet?

And how does John Bolton fit into all of this?

Today, Aaron and Jeffrey discuss the latest twists and turns in the run-up to the Singapore summit, and raise broader questions about denuclearization and bureaucratic politics in the United States.

 

Links of Note:

John Bolton discussing that the summit will fail.

Dig!

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Direct download: 96.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:56pm EDT

Kim Jong Un said he is closing the nuclear test site at Punggye-ri. But if outside inspectors and exports aren't allowed in, it could just be a PR stunt with no substantive contribution to "denuclearization."

Jeffrey and Aaron talk about what this means for North Korea, why inspectors and outside experts need to be allowed in, and what the upcoming Trump-Kim summit may lead to. 

Links of Note:

CNS/MIIS research on the possibility that the nuclear test site at Punggye-ri is possibly being dismantled right now. 

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Direct download: 95.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:57am EDT

A Canadian reviews the last few weeks of North Korea news with a special guest. Andrea chats with Antoine Bondaz from the Foundation for Strategic Research in Paris. They dissect the optics and outcomes of the recent inter-Korean summit, analyse the responses, and look at some of the stories you may have missed amongst the flashbulbs.

Links of Note:

Full text of the Panmunjom declaration, signed by Moon Jae In and Kim Jong Un.

Rodong Sinmun’s reporting on the summit the following day. Articles herehere, and here.

Australia and Canada sending planes to monitor illicit DPRK shipping activity. UK sending ships to monitor the same.  

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Direct download: 94.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:27am EDT

Bibi showed off Iran’s bomb. And its pretty crappy. The slide show added some titillating details to what the world already knew about Iran’s nuclear weapons program and, in doing so, made the case for why the JCPOA is so important. The real news was not the documents or their provenance, but what they revealed about Iran’s nuclear weapons planning.

They wanted a few bombs in the basement. Literally.

Jeffrey and Aaron talk this week about the Iranian nuclear weapons program, how Bibi added to what we already knew about their program, and why the JCPOA is important to verify that Iran’s bomb program remains confined to dusty files in binders and CDs in a dilapidated warehouse.

Links of Note:

Netanyahu's presentation.

Jeffrey's Twitter thread walking through the presentation, step-by-step.

Joshua Pollack's Defense One article on the presentation.

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

Direct download: 93.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:57pm EDT

A Canadian reviews the last few weeks of North Korea news with a special guest.

Andrea talks to Ramon Pacheco-Pardo from King’s College London about DPRK summit mania. They cover the recent high-level visits to Pyongyang, Beijing and Washington, consider North Korean pledges to refrain from certain nuclear and missile testing, and debate whether this is all a house of cards.

Links of Note:

Ramon’s take on the forthcoming inter-Korean summit, for War on the Rocks.

Yonhap on the Pompeo visit to Pyongyang, one of several ROK outlets creating an echo chamber for the Asahi Shimbun story.

The North Korean statement pledging to suspend ICBM testing and nuclear testing at the “northern” test ground.

Scott’s analysis of the recent North Korean test freeze pledge, for NK News.

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

 

Direct download: 92.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:18pm EDT

Haaretz dropped an incredible article with new details about the 2007 Israeli air strike on the nascent Syrian nuclear reactor at Al Kibar.

So we thought it would be a good opportunity to interrupt Jeffrey's working vacation to talk about Al Kibar, the North Korean nuclear connection, and how our understanding of the event has evolved over the past decade.

Links of Note:

The Haaretz article with all the details on the strike on Al Kibar.

One reader's trip to the Syrian archaeological site near Al Kibar that should not, and we cannot emphasize this enough, ever be tried again.

The 2008 videos detailing the Al Kibar strike

Some ACW blog posts on Al Kibar:

Discussions on the details of the reactor.

Some US IC statements about Al Kibar.

Decisionmaking around the strike.

Al Kibar being overrun during the Civil War.

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

Direct download: 91.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:55am EDT

A Canadian reviews the last month's North Korea news with two special guests, Jeffrey and Aaron. It's a family pod!

Andrea discusses the new UN Panel of Experts report on North Korea's illicit arms dealing, whether the DPRK is helping reconstitute the Syrian chemical weapons program, and some long awaited discussions on Myanmar's acquisition of North Korean ballistic missile systems.

 

Links of Note:

The New Panel of Experts Report!

The rest of the PoE reports, if you would like some light reading.

DPRK Foreign Ministry response to "maximum pressure" statements.

Direct download: 90.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:16am EDT

What is Russia’s nuclear doctrine? Jeffrey talks to Dr. Olga Oliker about Russian nuclear doctrine and developments. Unfortunately, she speaks Russian, which turns out to he really inconvenient for a lot of people's theories. 

Jeffrey and Olga discuss whether escalate to deescalate is a thing and Putin’s awesome new menagerie of terror weapons. 

Dr. Oliker's hosts a podcast, Russian Roulette, with Jeffrey Mankoff over at CSIS. It can be found here, go take a listen!

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Direct download: 89.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:05pm EDT

The Russian chemical weapons attack in Salisbury is, sadly, not the first assassination to take place on UK soil.

Jeffrey and Aaron spoke about Russia’s use of a Novichok nerve agent, what this act says about a return of Soviet patterns of behavior, and some policy options.

 

Links of Note:

The Stimson Center report, Chemical Weapons Disarmament in Russia: Problems and Prospects.

Direct download: 88.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:44am EDT

President Trump announced that he's going to meet with Kim Jong Un.

He seems to think that Kim Jong Un is giving up his weapons. Kim Jong Un seems to think that Trump is recognizing North Korea as a nuclear power. What could possibly go wrong? 

Jeffrey and Aaron discuss before Sarah Sanders walks this back. 

Direct download: 87.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:04pm EDT

A delegation from South Korea visited Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang.  After a sumptuous lunch and what looked like a little boozy, over-the-top happy Kim Jong Un waved goodbye as the South Korean delegation drove off with promises.

Aaron and Jeffrey talk about the ROK's post-lunch (not launch, for once) statement, the history of DPRK negotiations, and what could go wrong and right with the talks on the Korean Peninsula. 

Links of Note

Statements on the inter-Korean meeting.

Mark Fitzpatrick's article on the Leap Day Deal and how U.S./DPRK parallel statements differed in 2012.

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Direct download: 86.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:25am EDT

Two Canadians review the last month of North Korean developments as they try to ignore Canada's Olympic performance in curling and hockey.

Andrea talks to Matt Korda about Olympic diplomacy, DPRK proliferation networks, maritime deception practices, and the most recent set of sanctions.

 

Links of Note:

The transcript of the 2008 Burmese military delegation visit to Pyongyang.

The Panel of Experts Report covered in Reuters.

An update to Olympic Diplomacy: The ROK Delegation meets with Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang this week.

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Direct download: 85.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:25pm EDT

Russian president Vladimir Putin presented his annual address yesterday.

He showed off a bunch of new or recent nuclear weapons systems, designed to defeat US missile defenses.

The weirdest idea of all is a nuclear power cruise missile with global range. You read that right. Nuclear powered.

Aaron, Jeffrey, and Scott convene to discuss Russia’s new generation of insane nuclear weapons, ponder how we got here, and wonder what the hell we can do about it.

Links of Note:

Video Links!

The whole speech.

The new laser.

The new intercontinental nuclear-powered cruise missile.

The Sarmat ICBM with global range.

The air-launched missile Kinzhal.

The Avangard/Vanguard HGV.

The Status-6/Kanyon nuclear autonomous underwater vehicle.

The Russian Ministry of Defense has opened up voting on some of the new systems' names... if you wanna vote, vote here.

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Direct download: 84.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:29pm EDT

We’re back. After a brief hiatus, Jeffrey and Aaron return from their myriad trips.

The show documents Aaron and superproducer Scott’s visit to missile central down at joint-base Anacostia, where the two got an up close and personal viewing of the Qiam/Burkan 2-H and other assorted Iranian made goodies on display.

Jeffrey then filled Aaron in on his trip to the Munich Security Conference and his assorted medical ailments while traveling through out Germany.

Links of Note:

Our two prior episodes on the Iranian materiel display, one focusing on the Qiam/Burkan 2-H and one focusing on the Qasef-1.

Our series of six episodes discussing strategic stability, European security, and the Russian/INF problem. See episode description for links!

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

Sponsored Links:

Our sponsor this episode is ActionKit, a powerful suit of online campaigning tools.

https://actionkit.com/wonk

Direct download: 82.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00pm EDT

A Canadian reviews the last two months' North Korea news with a special guest. Andrea talks to Scott LaFoy for a whirlwind tour of December and January's developments. They cover Kim Jong Un's New Years Address, the Vancouver Foreign Ministers Meeting, and those pesky ship-to-ship transfers the North Koreans are so fond of these days.

 

Links of Note:

Andrea's pre-mortem of the Vancouver Meeting at Arms Control Wonk.

Andrea's discussion of the Olympic exchanges and negotiations over at The Diplomat.

NK News imagery of the nuclear backpacks from the 2013 parade.

Scott and Fyodor Tertitskiy's NK Pro article on the Olympic Negotiations.

Full text of Kim Jong Un's 'op ed' in KCNA/Rodong Sinmun. VOA link, safe for clicking in South Korea!

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Sponsored Links:

Our sponsor this episode is ActionKit, a powerful suit of online campaigning tools.

https://actionkit.com/wonk

Direct download: 81.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:33am EDT

India launched the Agni-V intermediate-range ballistic missile.

Launch a missile, get a pod.

Aaron is skiing in Vail, so The Diplomat's Ankit Panda joins Jeffrey to discuss India's nuclear and missile programs from rail mobile missiles to the guy who flooded India's only ballistic missile submarine.

Links of Note:

Ankit's Twitter thread on Agni test imagery.

Ankit and Prashanth Parameswaran did an excellent pod over at The Diplomat covering the Arihant and the Agni V.

 

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Sponsored Links:

Our sponsor this episode is ActionKit, a powerful suit of online campaigning tools.

https://actionkit.com/wonk

Direct download: 80.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:06am EDT

A draft of the Trump Administration's Nuclear Posture Review has leaked -- and its a doozy. 

Aaron and Jeffrey discuss the history of these reviews and recommendations to develop a new sea-launched cruise missile and a variable yield warhead for the Trident D5 submarine launched ballistic missile.

Links of Note:

The Huffpost article that originally leaked the document.

The 2010 Nuclear Posture Review from the Obama administration.

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Sponsored Links:

Our sponsor this episode is ActionKit, a powerful suit of online campaigning tools.

https://actionkit.com/wonk

 

Direct download: 79.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:12am EDT

The Trump Administration is naming names, confirming what Jeffrey has long said — that the new cruise missile Russia is building in violation of the 1987 INF Treaty is the 9M729, which is known in the US as the SSC-8 Screwdriver.

Aaron and Jeffrey discuss Russia’s violation of the INF Treaty, offering a deep dive on the new ground-launched cruise missile and the RS-26 intermediate-range ballistic missile.

Previous Podcast Episodes about this Topic:

An Era Without Arms Control?

The INF, NATO, and the MSC

The Little Green Men and a New Cruise Missile

Russia and the INF: Don't Call it a Circumvention

Is Russia Cheating on the INF Treaty? This was the very first Arms Control Wonk Podcast episode!

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Sponsored Links:

Our sponsor this episode is ActionKit, a powerful suit of online campaigning tools.

https://actionkit.com/wonk

Direct download: 76.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:38am EDT

We usually avoid chasing Trump’s tweets but when the President of the United States says his button is bigger than Kim Jong Un's ... well, we’re not made of stone.

Aaron and Jeffrey talk about whether Trump is bluffing and what the disarray in the White House says about policy process issues.

 

Links of Note:

The tweet in question and a backup in case it disappears. 

 

Previous Entries in The Donald and The Nuclear series on executive power and nuclear weapons:

The Donald, The Nuclear, and No First Use

2 Donald 2 Nuclear

The Donald and The Nuclear 3: Tokyo Drift

The Donald and The Nuclear Goblet of Fire (And Fury)

The Donald and The Nuclear V: The Senate Strikes Back

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Sponsored Links:

Our sponsor this episode is ActionKit, a powerful suit of online campaigning tools.

https://actionkit.com/wonk

Direct download: 77.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:41am EDT

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