Arms Control Wonk (general)

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

Donald Trump can independently order the United States to launch nuclear weapons. No, really ... he can independently order the use American nukes. This realization has made some uncomfortable, prompting discussions about presidential power and the bomb. Jeffrey and Aaron talk Donald, the Bomb, and independent launch authority.

Direct download: ep15.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:46pm EST

The election is over and Donald Trump is our president elect. The president elect and the nuclear did make regular appearances on the podcast, but things are different now. This week, Jeffrey and Aaron discuss the election, the Donald, and the nuclear.

Direct download: ep14.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:03pm EST

Did you know Egypt has a robust ballistic missile program?  And has had, since the 1960s?  Or that Egypt worked with Argentina and Iraq to design missiles?  Or that Egypt was the source of the missiles that are the basis of North Korea's missile programs?  Ever wonder what the Egyptians are up to now?  Aaron and Jeffrey discuss one of the world's least understood missile programs.

Direct download: ep13.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:53am EST

Scott Lafoy sits in for Aaron as Scott and Jeffrey discuss China's hit-to-kill program being tested out of Korla in China's western desert. Is designed to defend against missiles or shoot-down satellites?  BOTH, SILLY!

Direct download: ep12-2.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:26pm EST

Donald Trump made a bunch of crazy claims about the 2010 New START treaty, misnaming it the START UP treaty.  And, on top of that, State published the semi-annual aggregate data causing raising a few eyebrows and signing a couple of others with hot takes.  All of which is plenty of reason for Aaron to tell Jeffrey what it was like the negotiate an arms control treaty in Bill Potter's famous simulation class.

Direct download: ep11.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:37pm EST

Russia deployed the Iskander missile system to its tiny enclave of Kaliningrad and is reportedly churning out ground-launched cruise missiles like sausages.  The 1987 INF Treaty is probably in a lot of trouble,  which is as good a reason as any for podcast.  Jeffrey and Aaron talk.

Direct download: ep10.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:43pm EST

Yemen showed off a new missile called the Burkan-1 that looks an awful lot like an Extended Range Scud. Aaron and Jeffrey discuss the very ignored missile program of a very ignored country. 

Direct download: ep9.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:38pm EST

Former French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has written an article for The Washington Quarterly that dishes some of the dirt about negotiations leading up to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) -- better known as the Iran Deal.  Jeffrey and Aaron discuss what the revelations mean for the past and present of the US-Iran relationship.

Direct download: ep8.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:19pm EST

There is a healthy debate about how much a new ICBM will cost the US Air Force.  One question is whether to base the new missile in silos or consider something more ... exotic.  Jeffrey and Aaron take a light-hearted look at basing modes discussed during 1980s when the American defense community last confronted this question.

Direct download: Ep7.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:52pm EST

Leaked audio proves that Hilary Clinton revealed her secret plan to cancel the nuclear-armed cruise missile at a fundraiser in February.  Except it doesn't.  Aaron and Jeffrey discuss.

Direct download: ep6.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:36pm EST

During the first Presidential debate, Donald Trump was asked about whether the United States should pledge not to be the first to use nuclear weapons.  Jeffrey and Aaron use Trump's ramblings as guide to nuclear weapons declaratory policy.

Direct download: Ep5.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:25pm EST

The UN Security Council passed Resolution 2310 calling for an end to nuclear testing and the entry-into-force of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.  Jeffrey and Aaron discuss the origin of the proposal to pass a UNSCR against nuclear testing, the politics of the damn thing, and "World's Greatest Deliberative Body"™.

Direct download: 9272016.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:50am EST

Jeffrey and Aaron discuss North Korea's test of new rocket engine.  In January 2016, the US Treasry Department sanctioned several Iranian individuals associated with Iran's Shahid Hemmat Industrial Group (SHIG) for helping North Korea develop this engine -- the infamous "Dudes from the SHIG."

Direct download: 9222016_dudes_from_the_shig_II.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:18pm EST

President Barack Obama entered office with a speech in Prague committing the United States to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons. Like every other two term President, his attention in the final months has turned to his legacy.  Jeffrey and Aaron discuss the reports that Obama considered and rejected no first use, and what he might do as his term comes to an end.

Josh Rogin, "Obama plans major nuclear policy changes in his final months," Washington Post, July 10, 2016.

David Sanger and William Broad, "Obama Unlikely to Vow No First Use of Nuclear Weapons," New York Times, September 5, 2016.

Julian Borger, "Obama to decide on cuts to US nuclear arsenal in October," The Guardian, September 17, 2016.

Direct download: Dolittle_Do_a_lot_9202016.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:05pm EST

North Korea conducted yet another nuclear test. On a school night.

Aaron and Jeffrey discuss North Korea's fifth nuclear test, what it is like to write three articles in three days, and how quickly a toddler can decorate a television in lotion.

North Korea’s Nuke Program Is Way More Sophisticated Than You Think, Foreign Policy, September 9, 2016.

Why Is North Korea's Fifth Nuclear Test Different From Its Other Tests? The Atlantic, September 10, 2016. 

The Fifth Test: North Korea Building A Strategic Rocket Force? Beyond Parallel, September 9, 2016.

Direct download: ACW_20160913.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:16am EST

“MIRV” stands for Multiple Independently-targetable Re-entry Vehicles, the ability to put lots of very accurate nuclear warheads on a single missile.  Michael Krepon watched the US-Soviet arms race dangerously accelerate as both sides deployed large numbers of MIRVed missiles in the 1970s. Now other countries, like China and India, seem to be heading down this path.  Michael has edited a new book, The Lure and Pitfalls of MIRVs, that looks at the challenges and includes, among others, a chapter by Jeffrey on China’s nuclear forces.  Jeffrey and Michael discussion counterforce, MIRVs and the possibility of more intense nuclear arms races in East and South Asia.

The Lure and Pitfalls of MIRVs: From the First to the Second Nuclear Age, Michael Krepon, Travis Wheeler and Shane Mason, editors (Stimson Center, 2016). 

Jeffrey Lewis, “Great, Now China’s Got Multiple Nuclear Warhead Missiles?” Foreign Policy.com, May 26, 2015.

Support the show (and Karl the producer) by making a small donation on Patreon!

Thanks to: Dr Mark McCall, Sean Wain Dunlevy, Tim Emerton, and TD MacDonald for supporting the podcast!

Direct download: ACW_MIRVS_4_Jun_16.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:11pm EST

The U.S Treasury Department sanctioned individuals in the UAE and Iran, including some “dudes from the SHIG” for cooperation with KOMID. What the hell is KOMID? Jeffrey and Aaron discuss the Korea Mining Development Corporation, North Korea’s major arms seller and ponder the future of efforts to stop the (further) spread of ballistic and cruise missiles.

Treasury Sanctions Those Involved in Ballistic Missile Procurement for Iran

Direct download: ACW_20_Jan_16.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:36pm EST

Sanctions and the Iran Deal

Sanctions relief is a super important part of the Iran deal. It can also be kind of boring. We know boring. We study arms control verification, for pete’s sake.

But it’s still super important. Jeffrey and Aaron are joined by Sam Cutler, policy advisor at Ferrari & Associates, P.C., in a special joint Arms Control Wonk and Sanction Law podcast. You might even say it’s s Joint Comprehensive Podcast. Special bonus: Jeffrey and Aaron help Sam develop some sanction law related pickup lines.

Links:

Direct download: ACW_SanctionLaw_21_Jul_15.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:34am EST

Washington is a mess. We are fighting three wars and we don’t have a Secretary of Defense. In this episode of the podcast, Aaron and Jeffrey discuss the Hagel resignation, Ash Carter, and the dysfunction in Washington. Tune in for commentary on automated systems, the autopen, and Aaron’s defense of Chuck Hagel’s socks.

Direct download: ACW_7_Dec_14.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:37pm EST