Arms Control Wonk (general)

The CNS OSINT team did it again. While doing what one does on the weekend, looking at DPRK missile bases, Jeffrey and his team found a new missile base.

In this week’s episode, Aaron and Jeffrey talk through the finding, Josh Pollack’s meta op-ed on what OSINT means in today’s media environment, and how OSINT can be used to support the policy process and hold leaders feet to the fire.

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!
Direct download: 117.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

A Canadian discusses the month’s North Korea-related developments with some special guests. For November, Andrea is joined by Cristina Varriale of the Royal United Services Institute, and Hamish Macdonald of the Korea Risk Group. They talk through announcements about postponed meetings, joint military exercises, inter-Korean projects and Chinese border infrastructure. Oh, and puppies. 

 

Links of Note:

Pompeo says meeting with Kim Yong Chol is postponed.

Mattis announces that a scaled-down version of the Foal Eagle exercises will go forward in spring.

 

Reuters on the sanctions exemption for inter-Korean rail survey activities.

 

Hamish’s investigation into the slew of infrastructure development projects along the China-North Korea border.  

 

French national charged with treason for supposedly passing information to North Korea.

 

Did we say puppies?! 

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

Direct download: 115.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:56pm EST

India has some nuclear naval news, with its defense minister claiming a successful "first deterrent patrol."
What does this mean for Pakistan and nuclear dynamics in the Indian Ocean?
 
Aaron sits down with friends of the pod Ankit Panda and Vipin Narang to talk about the India-Pakistan relationship, India's ballistic missile subs, and Pakistan's cruise missile subs. 
 
This episode started as a Brilliant Pebble and ballooned into a full-blown episode!
 
Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!
Direct download: 114.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:09am EST

With the US on the precipice of withdrawing from the INF, all eyes have turned to China and its large number of INF range missiles. The think tank community has followed and a bevy of think pieces on basing modes in Asia have been published.

On this week’s episode, Jeffrey and Aaron talk about the cost of the BGM-109G and some of the implications of putting them on land... in the Pacific.

 

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

Direct download: 113.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:51pm EST

A Canadian reviews the month’s North Korea news together with a special guest. Andrea and Ramon Pacheco-Pardo, the Korea Foundation-Free University Brussels Korea Chair, look at Pompeo’s latest visit to Pyongyang, examine the outcomes of Moon Jae-in’s European tour, and talk about the North Korean middleman now on an FBI Most Wanted poster.

Links of Note:

Details of Pompeo’s October visit to Pyongyang.

NY Times, “South Korea backtracks on easing sanctions after Trump comment”, 11 October 2018.

Ramon’s article for NK News, examining what Moon Jae-in achieved and didn’t on his recent trip to Europe.

The Pope indicates his willingness to visit Pyongyang.

Department of Justice press release concerning the indictment of Singaporean national Tan Wee Beng, for his alleged dealings with North Korea.

 

 Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

Direct download: 112.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:06pm EST

The end of arms control, or a sub-culture run amok?

In today’s special, live-recorded edition of the Arms Control Wonk podcast, Aaron and Jeffrey talk about the end of the INF, John Bolton's motivations, and the reasons behind the US pull-out (aka the Stormy Daniels).

Previous Podcast Episodes about this Topic:

Tightening the Screws on the INF

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!

 

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

Direct download: 111.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:46pm EST

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.

 

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

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

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.

 

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

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

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.

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

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

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.

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

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

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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.

 <!--more-->

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.

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

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

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 EST

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 EST

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

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

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

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.

 

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

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

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 EST

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. 

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

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

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.  

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

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

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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!

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

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

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 EST

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 EST

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.

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

 

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

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.

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

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

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.

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

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

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!

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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 EST

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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!

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: 76.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:38am EST

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

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

Ambassador Nikki Haley gave quite the presentation a few weeks ago. Standing in front of two Qiam/Burkan-2H missile pieces, the US Ambassador the UN called out Iran for its proliferation activities in the Middle East. Two weeks, Aaron and Jeffrey talked at length about the missile.

In this episode, Aaron circles back to the other two objects shown off: An Iranian drone and suicide boat. To talk Iranian drones and regional proliferation, Aaron spoke with Adam Rawnsley, the co-author of Foreign Policy’s SitRep, and a top expert on all things unmanned. 

Links of Note

Adam Rawnsley's Twitter thread on Conflict Armament Research's report on Houthi use of Iranian drones.

RAND report on IAF operations against the Hezbollah Ababils.

2006 Flight Global Report on Hezbollah Ababil.

CAR report on the drone boat.

CAR report on Qasef-1.

UN Panel of Experts report with Iranian Toophans in Yemen.

DVIDS Hub link to the 5568 x 3712 photos of the Iranian drones being used by the Houthis in Yemen.

Direct download: 75.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:14pm EST

Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera announced that Tokyo wants to acquire a pair of long-range cruise missiles -- the 500 km-range Joint Strike Missile from Norway and the 1000 km range JASSM-ER -- to arm the country's new F-35.  Aaron and Jeffrey discussion the implications for Article 9 of Japan's constitution and stability in the region.

Links of Note:

Japan Times article on the Japanese Ministry of Defense's plans for cruise missile acquisitions.

Sponsored Links:

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

https://actionkit.com/wonk

Direct download: 73.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:29am EST

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley gave a dog-and-pony show with debris from the recent Houthi missile strikes against Saudi Arabia.

Jeffrey and Aaron go over the debris, explaining why the U.S. thinks the Yemeni Burkan-2H is actually the Iranian Qiam and asking what that means. 

Links of Note:

DVIDS Hub link to the 5568 x 3712 photos of the alleged Iranian missiles being fired into Saudi Arabia by the Houthis in Yemen.

 

Sponsored Links:

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

https://actionkit.com/wonk

Direct download: 74.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:44pm EST

"A shot was just taken by Iran, in my opinion, at Saudi Arabia. And our system knocked it down," Donald Trump told reporters. "That's how good we are. Nobody makes what we make and now we're selling it all over the world.”

Except it missed. Or maybe never even fired. Jeffrey and Aaron discuss the CNS OSINT teams investigation of the missile attack on the Riyadh airport that appeared in the New York Times.

 

Links of Note:

The New York Times article investigating the missile attack.

 

Direct download: 72.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:03am EST

A Canadian reviews the month’s North Korea news with a special guest.

For November, Andrea talks to John Hemmings, the Director of the Asia Studies Centre at the Henry Jackson Society. They dig into major stories about North Korean defectors and the Kim Jong Nam assassination, and consider the stunning views from Cathay Pacific flights.

 

Links of Note: 

Defector crosses the border at Panmunjom.

Statement by Rex Tillerson on the Hwasong-15 launch.

Kim Jong Nam carrying VX antidote. 

North Koreans bootlegging in Pakistan. 

Cathay Pacific air crew gets a good view. 

Direct download: 71.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:04am EST

North Korea tested a new ICBM called the Hwasong-15.

We'll keep these show notes brief. Its frickin’ huge.

Aaron, Jeffrey, and Scott discuss the missile, the launch site, the truck that carried it, and its oh-so-roomy payload.

Links of Note:

Dave Schmerler compiled the KCNA imagery into one big flickr album.

 

Direct download: 70.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:45pm EST

“Liddle Bob Corker” and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing on the President’s authority to use nuclear weapons. A bipartisan panel testified that “it’s fine.”

But is it?

Aaron and Jeffrey discuss Trump, the bomb, and the President’s War Powers.

 

Links of Note:

C-SPAN video of the entire Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing on Nuclear Weapons Authority.

Direct download: 69.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:23am EST

The US and South Korea agreed to revise the missile guidelines that have limited South Korea’s missile programs since the 1970s.

Aaron and Jeffrey discuss the origin of those limits, their evolution, and the impact of missile proliferation on the Korean Peninsula.

 

Links of Note:

Arms Control Wonk article about South Korea's Anheung Proving Grounds, where the missile tests occur.

Our last podcast on the Hyunmoo-2C, South Korea's latest publicly displayed missile.

Direct download: 68.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:42am EST

Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari, commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps, recently stated that Iran has no need to extend the range of its missiles beyond 2,000 km. With debates about Iran's missile program affecting the debate about the Iran nuclear deal, Aaron and Jeffrey take a survey of regional missile proliferation from Egypt to Iran.

Special bonus, Jeffrey tries not to giggle uncontrollably every time Aaron mentions the Hague Code of Conduct, aka the H-COC.

 

Links of Note:

IRGC says that Iran's missiles are capped at 2000km by the Supreme Leader.

Shea Cotton's Iranian Missile Launch Database at NTI.

Sponsored Link:

Douglass Alchemy kindly provided Jeffrey, Aaron, and Scott with a wide variety of quality cocktail bitters.

ACW Podcast listeners can use the promo code ACW to get 20% off any orders. Perfect for keeping you warm while missile-watching this winter.

Direct download: 67.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:34pm EST

A Canadian reviews the month's North Korea news with a special guest. For October, Andrea talks to Adam Cathcart -- a lecturer at Leeds University and editor of the website Sino-NK

They dig into the events of the 19th Party Congress in China, talk about the dodgy stuff the Egyptians have been buying from Pyongyang, and try to figure out what's in the water (or maple syrup) up North. 

Links of Note:

Adam Cathcart's China Brief article on Chinese PLA troop movements near the border with North Korea.

Joby Warrick's Washington Post article on the Jie Shun.

Andrea Berger and Matt Korda's Canadian International Council article on Canada's Ballistic Missile Defense Debate.

Direct download: 66.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:29am EST

The New York Times has a splashy interactive editorial, "Trump’s Nuclear Arsenal." It's good, but gets a few things wrong --
things that matter like Mutual Assured Destruction, Robert McNamara's famous thought experiment on sizing US nuclear forces, and how the US targets nuclear weapons. Also, they misuse decimate.
 
Aaron and Jeffrey talk through the problems with US nuclear policy and Jeffrey's proposal to state that the US will not use nuclear weapon against a target if a conventional one will do.
 
Links of Note:
 
 
Jeffrey and Scott Sagan's article, and its shorter, op-ed version in the Washington Post.
 
 Aaron's recently revived podcast, Turkey Wonk.
 
Direct download: 65.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:20pm EST

President Trump said each of the missile defense interceptors at the
Ground-based Midcourse Defense site in Alaska has a 97% chance of shooting down a North Korean missile and that two would have a 100% chance.

Statistics don't work like that, at least that's not
how it was taught where Jeffrey and Aaron went to school. We discuss
how to think about missile defenses and statistical risk, while Scott
joins us to explain the online calculator he built for just such a
problem.

 

Links of Note:

Mostly Missile Defense's List of Claims about GMD Effectiveness.

The Washington Post's Fact Check on President Trump's 97% claim.

Joshua Pollack's article on the 97% claim on Defense One.

Scott's been fiddling with missile defense calculators and put together a few helpful tools:

The Simple Model (pulled from Wilkening's work), but without radar/sensor probabilities. This calculator is used to estimate the probability of a multilayer missile defense architecture intercepting X number of incoming warheads.

Another Simple Model based calculator, but with a very basic estimation for sensors and tracking probabilities, also based on Wilkening's writings.

Scott's under-construction experimental tool for sticking these probabilities on a map (with examples!).

 

 

 

 

Direct download: 64.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:11am EST

No, Hilary Clinton did not sell America's uranium to Russia.

Aaron and Jeffrey attempt to patiently discuss the Uranium One purchase of Willow Creek uranium mine, the US firm that bribed Russian officials to win trucking contracts, and why this particular conspiracy theory is so prevalent in American political discourse.

 

Links of Note:

The Washington Post article fact checking the President's claim.

The 2015 New York Times article that set the conspiracy theorizing in motion.

A 2010 article from the Washington Times claiming that the sale of Uranium One would hurt the U.S. (it didn't).

Direct download: 63.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:54pm EST

Donald Trump announced a new "strategy"  -- loosely defined -- for confronting Iran. Trump also will refuse to certify that Iran is implementing its commitments under the Iran nuclear deal, aka the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), throwing the issue back to Congress and (possibly) starting a second nuclear crisis. 

Jeffrey and Aaron discuss why Congress created the requirement to certify the Iran nuclear deal, why Trump hates it, and what happens now.

Links of Note:
 
NPR full video and transcript of Trump's Iran speech.

Main and addendum text of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
 
Text of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 (INARA).
 
Jeffrey and Aaron can also be seen talking about this issue on Vice News Tonight (Season 2, Episode 4, October 16). 
Direct download: 62.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:04am EST

ICAN won the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize for its work on "for its work to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons and for its ground-breaking efforts to achieve a treaty-based prohibition of such weapons."

Jeffrey and Aaron discuss the prize, the treaty to ban nuclear weapons, and efforts to promote disarmament

Links of Note:

NTI's fact page on the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

Our episodes on the ban treaty negotiations, Banning the Bomb:

Part I

Part II

Part IIIA (with Beatrice Fihn herself!)

Part IIIB (with Beatrice Fihn herself!)

 

Direct download: 61.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:40pm EST

Donald Trump told the United Nations that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (aka the Iran nuclear deal aka the Vienna Plan aka der Weinerplan) between Iran and the so-called E3/U-3 "Is an embarrassment to the United States, and I don't think you've heard the last of it -- believe me."

Aaron and Jeffrey talk about the prospects for Trump to walk away from the Iran nuclear deal, why that would be a bad idea, why the "section T" talking point is tendentious nonsense, and why its time to make peace with the fact that the future of nonproliferation is mostly about persuading countries to take a pass on the bomb.

Links of Note:

Full text of President Trump's United Nations General Assembly Speech.

Section T of Annex 1 of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

Direct download: 60.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:07am EST

A Canadian reviews the month's North Korea news with a special guest. For September, Andrea talks to Alison Evans -- deputy head of Asia-Pacific country risk at IHS Markit.

They revisit UN General Assembly drama, developments in alliance politics, and North Korea's stunning victory at Disney puns.

Direct download: 59.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:24pm EST

Proliferators not only need to move goods around the world to support their WMD and missile programs, they need to move money too.
 
How do they get into the international financial system undetected? Can banks do more to stop them? Who is leading the global charge on countering proliferation finance? Andrea talks to Tom Keatinge, a former investment banker-turned financial crime specialist. 
 
Links of Note
 
The Financial Action Task Force Recommendations
 
 
 
Direct download: 58.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:56am EST

The Trump Administration is reportedly mulling the development of new "low yield" nuclear weapons in its Nuclear Posture Review. But is this really new? Or is it that we just don't trust the Trump Administration with sharp objects, let alone the bomb.
 
Jeffrey and Aaron discuss the recent history of proposals for new nuclear weapons, including low-yield ones, as well as how partisan framing and foreign perceptions may matter more than the technical reality.
 
Links of Note:
 
 
 
Direct download: 57.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:12am EST

The final part in our three part series! Episode 1 can be found here. Episode 2 is here.

This addendum episode includes discussion on new developments, the DPRK's 'Site B' for SLBMs, and the Golf submarines.

In addition to a new ICBM and thermonuclear weapon, North Korea is also developing new class of solid-fueled missiles.

 
Joseph Dempsey from the International Institute for Strategic Studies joins Jeffrey in a special three part episode to discuss the Pukguksong-1 submarine launched ballistic missile, the land-based Pukguksong-2 medium range ballistic missile, and Kim Jong Un's visit to the Chemical Material Institute in Hamhung.
 
Part 2 of 3, originally recorded in August, before ICBM and H-Bomb fever

Links (and Pictures) of Note

North Korea's SLBM and associated subsystems testing record, provided by Joseph

The Pukguksong-1 on parade with its potentially-new airframe on display.

Kim Jong Un visiting the Chemical Material Institute of the Academy of Defense Science, flanked by posters of the Hwasong-13 and Pukguksong-3

Direct download: 54Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:35am EST

The second part in our three part series! Episode 1 can be found here.

In addition to a new ICBM and thermonuclear weapon, North Korea is also developing new class of solid-fueled missiles.

 
Joseph Dempsey from the International Institute for Strategic Studies joins Jeffrey in a special three part episode to discuss the Pukguksong-1 submarine launched ballistic missile, the land-based Pukguksong-2 medium range ballistic missile, and Kim Jong Un's visit to the Chemical Material Institute in Hamhung.
 
Part 2 of 3, originally recorded in August, before ICBM and H-Bomb fever

Links (and Pictures) of Note

North Korea's SLBM and associated subsystems testing record, provided by Joseph

The Pukguksong-1 on parade with its potentially-new airframe on display.

Kim Jong Un visiting the Chemical Material Institute of the Academy of Defense Science, flanked by posters of the Hwasong-13 and Pukguksong-3

Direct download: 54B.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:25am EST

 

In addition to a new ICBM and thermonuclear weapon, North Korea is also developing new class of solid-fueled missiles.
 
Joseph Dempsey from the International Institute for Strategic Studies joins Jeffrey in a special three part episode to discuss the Pukguksong-1 submarine launched ballistic missile, the land-based Pukguksong-2 medium range ballistic missile, and Kim Jong Un's visit to the Chemical Material Institute in Hamhung.
 
Part 1 of 3, originally recorded in August, before ICBM and H-Bomb fever

Links (and Pictures) of Note

North Korea's SLBM and associated subsystems testing record, provided by Joseph

The Pukguksong-1 on parade with its potentially-new airframe on display.

Kim Jong Un visiting the Chemical Material Institute of the Academy of Defense Science, flanked by posters of the Hwasong-13 and Pukguksong-3

Direct download: 54A.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00pm EST

Jeffrey was lounging at the beach with his phone off. You know what the means: NORTH KOREAN NUCLEAR TEST TIME! North Korea released images of Kim Jong Un inspecting what looked like a two-stage thermonuclear weapon and then, before analysts could pretend it was just a pinata, kablooie!

North Korea detonated its largest nuclear explosive ever, with a yield of a few hundred kilotons.  Aaron and Jeffrey talk about North Korea's H-bomb and try to end on that ever elusive happy note.

Links of Note:

 NTI Punggye-ri Model with article

Just the NTI Punggye-ri Model

USGS Earthquake Reporting for the 6th nuclear test.

CTBTO Reporting for the 6th nuclear test.

Direct download: 56.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:35pm EST

The relationship between the United States and Russia is in the toilet.  The FY 2018 National Defense Authorization Act contains a number of provisions that call into question the viability of the INF and New START treaties, as well as the future of the entire bilateral arms control process.
Jeffrey and Aaron discuss Russian nuclear modernization including new missiles like the Son of Satan, RS-26 Rubezh and the 9M729 GLCM and the prospect of renewed nuclear testing at Novaya Zemlya.
 

Links of Note

The House NDAA Bill.

 
 
 
Direct download: 55.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:23am EST

In all the squinting at shiny missile bits, the bigger picture on North Korea has gotten a bit lost. Jeffrey and Andrea talk about some of the less pointy topics like new sanctions on North Korea, mollusks, and the reaction in Japan and South Korea. 

 

Links of Note

Andrea's article on the new UN sanctions.

UN Security Council Resolution 2371 (2017).

U.S. Fact Sheet on Resolution 2371 (2017) Strengthening Sanctions on North Korea.

U.S. unilateral sanctions introduced in the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (text here).

Direct download: 53.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:12am EST

The fourth part in our The Donald and The Nuclear series.

The crazy lunatic with the odd hair style and long-range nuclear weapons is talking about "fire and fury".  So naturally North Korea's Kim Jong Un threatened to fire four Hwasong-12 intermediate-range  ballistic missiles into the waters around Guam, saying that Donald Trump was "bereft of reason."

Aaron, Scott and Jeffrey survey the smoldering wreckage that was Jeffrey's marriage-saving vacation in wine country and try to find a happy note.

 

Links of Note:

NYT article about trump's "Fire and Fury" comment being improvised.

NBC discussion of a preemptive strike plan.

Instead of linking to KCNA, here is a link to the text of the KCNA article, but posted on twitter by friend of the pod Joshua Pollack. 

Direct download: 52.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:32am EST

Amidst all the hoopla surrounding North Korea's ICBM, Iran launched a Simorgh, a rocket designed to put a satellite into space. Aaron and Jeffrey discuss the Iran's space launch program, how it relates to the nuclear program. And, of course, the Dudes from the SHIG.

Links of Note:

Detailed video of the Simorgh and the NTI 3D Models of both the Simorgh and the Safir.

Jonathan McDowell and his excellent Launch Vehicle Database.

The maligned op-ed in the WSJ. 

Direct download: 50.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:32pm EST

The DPRK just launched a looooong range missile. According to podfriend Ankit Panda, it went farther, higher, and farther than the July 4th Hwasong-14 launch (with a data refresher here, courtesy of noted seersucker suit aficionado Shea Cotton)

Jeffrey and Aaron knock out a snap episode with very first reactions to a launch that literally happened while we were working on an Iranian pod. 

 

 

Direct download: 51.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:49pm EST

The second half of yesterday's Banning the Bomb III. Make sure to listen to that one first. 
 
122 countries just adopted the Treaty banning nuclear weapons, in the same week that North Korea tested an ICBM. 
 
AndreaGaukhar, and Beatrice Fihn from the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons continue their discussion of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (the Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty) and talk about what made the cut for the final treaty, debate some of the implications, and states sitting on their arsenals. 
 
 
 
Links and Documents of Note:
 
 
 
 
Revised texts of the working groups (held on 30 June) are available at: http://www.reachingcriticalwill.org/disarmament-fora/nuclear-weapon-ban/documents 
 
Text which incorporates working group proposals, and which was circulated to capitals on 3 July 2017, as Kim Jong Un was smoking his pre-launch cigarette: http://www.reachingcriticalwill.org/images/documents/Disarmament-fora/nuclear-weapon-ban/documents/L-X.pdf
 
 
Direct download: 49B.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:34am EST

122 countries just adopted a treaty banning nuclear weapons, in the same week that North Korea tested an ICBM. Andrea, Gaukhar, and Beatrice Fihn from the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons talk about what made the cut for the final treaty, debate some of the implications, and evaluate whether diplomats are most like a solid, a liquid, or a gas. 
 
 
Links and Documents of Note:
 
 
 
 
Revised texts of the working groups (held on 30 June) are available at: http://www.reachingcriticalwill.org/disarmament-fora/nuclear-weapon-ban/documents 
 
Text which incorporates working group proposals, and which was circulated to capitals on 3 July 2017, as Kim Jong Un was smoking his pre-launch cigarette: http://www.reachingcriticalwill.org/images/documents/Disarmament-fora/nuclear-weapon-ban/documents/L-X.pdf
 
 
Direct download: 49A.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:08am EST

No one has better sources in the U.S. government when it comes to North Korea's missile program than the Diplomat's Ankit Panda. 

He joins Jeffrey and Scott to discuss the Hwasong-12, Hwasong-14, a very strange North Korean concert, and Ankit shares some never-before-released data on the Hwasong-12 and some KN designations. 

This podcast is a joint release with The Diplomat's Asia Geopolitics Podcast.

 

New KN-17/Hwasong-12 Data:

Now we know the KN-17 has been tested at least 4 times with 3 failures. Two shots out of Sinpo, one of which failed during flight and one of which tipped over and exploded. One came from Pukchang Airfield and appears to have crashed in the DPRK.

Early reports of DPRK missile ‘pinwheeling’ during a failed test. The details led a lot of analysts (ourselves included) to assume this was the MaRV/Terminally Guided Scud, and thus continue to believe that the KN-17 was said Scud. However, the KN-17 is now known to be the Hwasong-12. The pictures below include some stills that may come from the pinwheel launch.

Designations we discuss:

KN-12: 122mm MRLS

KN-15: Pukguksong-2

KN-16: 240mm MRLS

KN-17: Hwasong-12 IRBM

KN-18: MaRV/Terminally Guided Scud

KN-19: KM-3 Coastal Defense Cruise Missile (Ground Based)

KN-20: Hwasong-14 ICBM

Links of Note:

Ankit Panda’s Twitter Feed

Joshua Pollack’s two articles on aging Russian Early Warning systems and the launch events they have missed.

South Korean lawmaker says ROK intel service doubts that the Hwasong-14 reentry vehicle was successful.

Images of Note:

The new MRLS designations

That nosecap that is bothering Scott so much, posted originally by Joseph Dempsey:

Hwasong-12 launch footage shown at the concert:

Direct download: 48.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:37pm EST

Test a missile, get a pod. North Korea tested a missile. The big one. An ICBM. To discuss recent events, Aaron, Jeffrey, and Scott talk about the KN-20/Hwasong-14, how we got here, and what we know about the missile. 

Links of Note:

The pod about the Hwasong-12, the immediate precursor to the Hwasong-14, including discussion of the DPRK's engine developments.

Ankit Panda's article that first mentions the KN-20 designation and that the U.S. observed the missile for around 70 minutes prior to launch (and Russian denial that the KN-20/Hwasong-14 an ICBM... a topic for another pod).

And, for your viewing pleasure, the Hwasong-14 and Kim Jong-Un doing the Smooth Criminal lean in the bottom right. 

Direct download: 47.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:54pm EST

South Korea tested the 800km Hyunmoo-2C ballistic missile ... from a barge! New President Moon Jae-in was in attendance, resulting in some geolocation goodies.

Aaron and Jeffrey talk about using open source information to track the interesting, but under-studied, South Korean missile program.

 

Links of Note:

A series of various twitter threads from Jeffrey with Schmerler.

Jeffrey wrote a blogpost about the Anheung Proving Ground with annotated Planet imagery.

The discussed Canadian Tuxedo Man holding a model of the reentry vehicle: 

Direct download: 46.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:34am EST

Norm enforcement: You test a missile, you get a pod. You test a missile in a shipping container, you get a pod and a reference to Russian techno music.

In today’s episode, Jeffrey, Aaron, and Scott talk Israel’s LORA, the spread of small solid fueled missiles, and improved guidance.

 

Links of Note:

Video/advertisement of the event.

Israel Aerospace Industries announcement of the trial.

Raytheon advertisement and fact sheets for the DeepStrike. (Seriously Raytheon folks, send me your best video)

Update on the DeepStrike's progress.

Direct download: 45.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

Iran fired a number of ballistic missiles, including the new solid Zolfaqar missiles, from bases in Kermanshah and Kurdistan against at least two ISIS targets in Mayadin in eastern Syria. 

Aaron and Jeffrey discuss using open source information to identify the launch points and impact points, and what the launches tell us about Iran's growing missile program. 

 

Links of Note:

Early analysis of the Zolfaqar by Jane's.

If you're interested in the Shahed-129 drone mentioned.

Jeffrey tweeted a bunch about tracking down the launch and impact sites.

 

 

Direct download: 44.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:02pm EST

The UAE is a missile power. Who knew? 

In today's episode, Jeffrey and Aaron discuss the UAE's 1989 purchase of the Scud B (or Hwasong 5) from North Korea, a second purchase of the Scud C in 1999, and the country's well maintained missile base.

 

Links of Note:

NIE 5-91C discussing missile proliferation. 

The 2015 Emirati email leak.

Direct download: 43.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:40pm EST

The US conducted a successful test, FTG-15, of the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system designed to protect the United States against a ballistic missile launched from North Korea. The Missile Defense Agency takes a victory lap after its first intercept of an ICBM-class target. 

Scott joins Jeffrey to discuss what the test proves -- and what it does not.

Links of Note:

Vice Admiral Syring (Director, Missile Defense Agency) made an unclassified written statement linked here.

A Department of Defense statement with video of the intercept event (FTG-15) linked here.

Video of Vice Admiral Syring's testimony before the U.S. House Armed Services Committee, FY18 Priorities & Posture of Missile Defeat Programs & Activities.

 

Direct download: 42.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:16am EST

A group of countries is negotiating a convention to ban the use and
possession of nuclear weapons. The chair has released a draft treaty
in advance of the second round of negotiations to be held this month.

 

Andrea Berger and Jeffrey Lewis discuss the good, the bad, and the ugly
of the draft Convention on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

Direct download: 41.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:53am EST

Turkey released footage of a test of a short-range ballistic missile, Roketsan's Bora/Khan. You know the Arms Control Wonk rule, test a new missile, get a podcast. 

Jeffrey and Aaron discuss Turkey's defense industries, armed forces, and cooperation in developing missiles with China. 

Direct download: 40.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

North Korea has finally tested (successfully) a new missile -- and boy it is a doozy. After the April 15 parade, we called this missile the KN-08 Mod Odd and the KN-08 +/-. But North Korea calls it the Hwasong-12 and it contains a surprise: the brand-new "indigenous" engine that North Korea debuted in March.

Jeffrey and Scott discuss this new IRBM, its odd firing table and launch configuration, the propaganda of missile testing, and whether or not an ICBM is next.

 

 

Direct download: 39.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:31pm EST

France has elected Emmanuel Macron as President, which is a chance for
Jeffrey to inflict upon Aaron endless stories illustrating his love of
French wine, food, and nuclear weapons.

Direct download: 38.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:30am EST

Jeffrey and Aaron don't really want to keep talking about North Korea,
but there is a US THAAD battery sitting on a fricking golf course.
That calls for a podcast, one in which Aaron and Jeffrey discuss the
politics of deploying THAAD now, China's opposition to THAAD, and North
Korea's probable countermeasures.

Direct download: 37.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:09pm EST

Do you remember THE GREEN BEE? Where we talked about a mysterious Taiwanese ballistic missile that looked a lot like the Lance? Well the research continues and new data has come to light putting the Green Bee firmly on the Israeli Jericho arc, not the U.S. Lance arc. 

Jeffrey and Scott continue to discuss Taiwan's understudied ballistic missile program, dive through declassified documents, and discuss Taiwan's strange connections to Israel, Iran, and the Jericho missile.

Direct download: 34.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:38pm EST

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced the the Trump Administration is conducting a comprehensive review of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, aka the Iran nuclear deal. Jeffrey and Aaron catch up on the deal and try to put the review in context.

Direct download: 36.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:06pm EST

Where were you, April 15th? Because we were in front of our computers ironically tweeting about what new missiles North Korea would show us, and then suddenly it got weird.

The North Korean's showed off 8 missile and launch systems, of which 5 were mods, reconfigurations, or totally new. While we don't think all of the missile systems actually exist yet, this was probably a glimpse of the DPRK's aspirational future missile arsenal.

Jeffrey and Scott get granular as they go through each ballistic missile system in detail and try to parse out what was real, what was signalling, what we learned, and what we will be watching for in the future. 


DISCLAIMER: This data is new and is still being processed. This is a set of second-impressions, not a set of final, settled analytic conclusions.

Due to the lack of a very high resolution parade at time of recording, this link was used.
The schedule:

The Kumsong-3 (Kh-35 lookalike)

The Pukguksong-1 SLBM

The KN-18 ASBM (UPDATE: ID'd erroneously in the pod as the KN-17)

The Pukguksong-2

The Musudan

The KN-08+ or -  (UPDATE: Called the Hwasong-12 and KN-17, though KN-17 designation erroneously used for the terminally guided possible ASBM)

The Soviet-looking DF-21A/31 ICBM MEL(no extant public designation)

The DF-41/RT-2PM2 Topol-M ICBM TEL lovechild (no extant public designation)

 

Direct download: 35.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:58am EST

Syria's Bashar Al Assad has used chemical weapons (again.) Jeffrey and Aaron discuss what happened, why and what to do about it. Jeffrey and Aaron debate the merits of a strike in a episode recorded a few hours before the airstrike on al-Shayrat Air Base.

Direct download: 33.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:22pm EST

Why are more than 100 countries negotiating a legally binding prohibition on nuclear weapons, at the same time that Donald Trump is arguing for more nukes, the P5 are modernizing, and Kim Jong Un is threatening to use Japan as target practice?

Andrea and Gaukhar explain the initiative’s origins, and report back from the first week of UN talks on the proposed treaty.

Direct download: 32.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:37am EST

Do you get lost in missile defense jargon? Have trouble with radar bands, layering, or interceptor types? Jeffrey and Aaron take a step back and discuss the basics of ballistic missile defense architecture and California wines.

Direct download: 30.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:34pm EST

North Korea launched 4 extended range Scuds in March. They weren't the long-awaited ICBM, but they are a big deal in their own way. Jeffrey and Aaron discuss North Korea's launch, US military exercises on the Korean Peninsula, and how a nuclear war might start.

Direct download: 29.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

Andrea Berger and James Pearson sit down to discuss their open source exposure of Glocom, a front company used by North Korea to sell military communications equipment. North Korea has a reputation for disturbingly impressive sanctions evasion, and the Glocom case is an example of hiding in plain sight. 

They track supply chains, Reconnaissance General Bureau personnel, and conference room architecture in their investigation to see how deep the front-company rabbit hole goes.  

Direct download: 28.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:59am EST

Jeffrey just returned from the Munich Security Conference. On his way back, he passed through DC where he sat down with Aaron and Scott to discuss NATO, extended deterrence, intermediate-range nuclear forces like the RS-26 and the SSC-8, and what makes for an ideal beer hall.

Direct download: 27.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:04am EST

North Korea tested the Pukguksong-2, a medium-range solid-fueled ballistic missile.

Jeffrey says "I told you so," Scott wonks out about the missile's canister and Aaron brings along his toddler to warn us of the dangers of an EMP attack.

By the end, they might even explain why this missile is a Big Frickin' Deal.

Direct download: 26.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:06pm EST

Donald Trump ordered up a new Nuclear Posture Review and reportedly told Vladimir Putin that the New START arms control treaty was a bad deal -- after first asking his advisers what it was. We don't know whether Trump really hired two Russian hookers to pee on Obama's hotel bed in Moscow, but Jeffrey tells Scott that the President is certainly directing a warm stream of abuse toward Obama's nuclear legacy.

Direct download: 25.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:18pm EST

Iran's Khorramshahr missile may be the BM-25 variant of North Korea's Hwasong-10, which the US calls the Musudan, which is based on the Soviet R-27 Zyb, which the US called the SS-N-6 Serb.

Simple, right? Don't worry! Jeffrey and Scott talk about Iran's latest missile test and what it might tell us about missile development in Iran and North Korea.

Direct download: 24.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:09am EST

Jeffrey and Scott celebrate the Lunar New Year by sharing two stories
about how the moon featured in the arms race.

Scott talks about plans to nuke the moon in project A119, while
Jeffrey discusses how a young Bill Perry helped the US monitor Soviet
radars by intercepting the signals reflecting off the lunar surface.

Direct download: 23.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:41am EST

Trident’s latest test was rather underwhelming. The missile's flight trajectory was error filled and flew at an unintended target (Disneyworld). Why? The dastardly grey weather, or something more pernicious. Is our dear Dreadnought in trouble? Tune in and find out.

Jeffrey and Aaron have a gentlemanly discussion about the British strategic deterrent. Tea will be served.

Direct download: 22.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:37am EST

If you study nuclear weapons, you study something secret.  Not
surprisingly, we spend a lot of time in the arms control community
thinking about intelligence estimates.  Jeffrey and Scott take a break
from the bomb to talk analytic method. The  Trump documents dumped on
Buzzfeed are as good an excuse as any to discuss the role of analysis in
making sense of raw intel.

Direct download: 21.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:46pm EST

Jeffrey and Aaron discuss a number of inaccuracies in the public debate over North Korea's long-range missiles and U.S. missile defenses, while Scott seethes on mute.

Direct download: 19.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:00am EST

In the mid-60s, The Green Hornet was a popular TV show. Popular enough for the Taiwanese to apparently name an early ballistic missile after it, the Green Bee (青蜂). Also, did you know Taiwan had its own ballistic missile program? Its anti-ship and cruise missiles tend to make the news, but Taiwan has a storied and strange history with ballistic missile proliferation that involves the infiltration of American universities, the laundering of missiles, and Israel. 

Jeffrey and Scott sit down to discuss Taiwan's history with ballistic missiles with data fresh from Jeffrey's primary source research.

Direct download: ep18.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:26pm EST

Can the North Koreans still trade coal effectively? What is going on with North Korean ships? Are transit lounges smokey dens of proliferative behavior?

Andrea Berger, Deputy Director of Proliferation and Nuclear Policy at the Royal United Services Institute, joins Jeffrey to talk about UNSC 2321 and recent UN attempts to close the loopholes in existing sanctions on North Korea.

Direct download: 17revision.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

Aaron and Scott talk about the Fourth Player in the Cuban Missile Crisis. Turkey was the lesser-known player in the Cuban Missile Crisis, with nuclear-tipped Jupiter missiles that ranged the bulk of the western USSR and Warsaw Pact countries. The U.S. opted to pull back the Jupiters in exchange for those pesky missiles south of Florida. Turkey was not thrilled. 

Scott also sneaks in a reference to his favorite never-was missile, the Italian Alfa.

Direct download: EP16.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:17am EST