Arms Control Wonk

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