Arms Control Wonk

We have data! Jeffrey and Aaron walk through the new primary source data to figure out if either Iran's missile raid or Israeli's missile defense efforts were effective. This appears to be the first time that successful wartime ballistic missile defense intercepts can be validated via open source means, which is a major step forward for open source missile and BMD analysis. 

Jeffrey and Aaron also talk about the relative impact of conventional ballistic missiles, and what secondary effects must be considered when assessing the value of interceptors vs. offensive missiles. 

This one gets wonky. 

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Direct download: 298.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:55pm EDT

And you may find yourself not complying with the IAEA

And you may find yourself in a war in another part of the world

And you may find yourself making a metaphor about an automobile

And you may find yourself enriching your uranium stocks, and building reactors

And you may ask yourself "Well, how did I get here?" 

 

Letting the days go by, politics will hold you down 

Letting the days go by, heavy water underground 

Into Fordow again, maybe to Isfahan

Once in a lifetime, realignment all around

 

Same as it ever was, Same as it ever was

 

Jeffrey and Aaron go through the current state of play in Iranian politics (just prior to its massive missile strike on Israel), particularly around the nuclear program and what the bomb genuinely means for security and Iranian internal politics, and review how we got here over the past 20 years of Arms Control Wonkery.

 

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Direct download: 297.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:49am EDT

William Alberque joins Jeffrey for a friendly and deep debate about the Russian Navy nuclear documents leaked to FT, covered in our previous episode.

This is a fascinating discussion not only on the documents themselves, but what they imply for Russia's view of its own territorial integrity, what it needs to convince its soldiers to go to bat for, and the eternal issues of "self-deterrence".  

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Direct download: 296.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:41pm EDT

Max Seddon and Chris Cook with the Financial Times have written an excellent piece on leaked Russian Naval documents that FT saw, focused on thresholds for Russian nuclear use, especially in a war scenario with China. 

Jeffrey and Aaron go through what the documents reveal and debate if they're generally consistant with what is understood about Russian nuclear doctrine or, as FT states, indicate that the threshold is lower than previous understood.  

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Direct download: 295.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:44pm EDT

Road trip to Vegas.

As part of an NGO transparency visit, NNSA opened up the Nevada Test Site to a group of international nuclear weapons experts, including one Dr. Jeffrey Lewis.

Jeffrey goes through what he saw: P Tunnel, The BEEF, and the crown jewel, U1a. This was an NNSA exercise in transparency, aimed at showing the community and world that the U.S. stockpile stewardship and treaty verification exercises are separate from nuclear explosive tests. It was also, and we cannot underline this enough, extremely cool.

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Direct download: 294.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:18am EDT

Shoigu went shopping. 

Russia is buying KN-23 and KN-25 missiles from North Korea and launching them in support of its invasion of Ukraine. Imagery from on the ground clearly shows North Korean style solid-propellant missiles.

Jeffrey and Aaron talk about what this means for global ballistic missile proliferation, possible South Korean responses, and the continued rise of North Korea as a ballistic missile exporter.

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Direct download: 293.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:25pm EDT

North Korea finally got a reconnaissance satellite into orbit, after several failed prior attempts! While it is a little rough around the edges, every program has to start somewhere.

Jeffrey and Aaron talk through the implications of the DPRK's reconnaissance satellite, the relationship of the DPRK missile and space programs, and the importance of high fashion for the spacelaunching elites. 

 

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Direct download: 292.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:40pm EDT

Take a listen to the latest season of Jeffrey Lewis's podcast, The Reason We're All Still Here

Far too often, governments behave like toddlers. They’re fickle. They don’t like to share. And good luck getting them to pay attention to any problem that isn’t directly in front of them. They like to push each other to the brink, and often do. But when they don’t, it’s usually because other people enter the proverbial room. Private citizens who step up and play peacemaker when their governments won’t or can’t. People who strive for collaboration and understanding, and sometimes end up finding it in unlikely places. Those people and the work they do, they’re the reason we’re all still here.

This season, we’ll hear from scientists, analysts, and idealists who have gone to crazy lengths just for a shot at making peace and building understanding From smoke-filled rooms in North Korea to secret labs in the Soviet Union… to the lawless seas, and even to the depths of outer space (or, at least, the conference rooms where they talk about the depths of outer space). This podcast tells the stories about the people holding us back from the brink.

Hosted by ​​Dr. Jeffrey Lewis, a professor and scholar at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies on the Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies faculty. Previously, he served as Director of the Nuclear Strategy and Nonproliferation Initiative at the New America Foundation and Executive Director of the Managing the Atom Project at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University. He is the founder of ArmsControlWonk.com, a leading resource on disarmament, arms control and nonproliferation issues.

 

Produced by Gilded Audio and the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies

Direct download: The_Reason_Were_All_Still_Here.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:07pm EDT

Looks like everyone is preparing for a party. 

Between Russia's potential un-signing of a nuclear test treaty, threats to test "if the United States does," and refurbishments at Novaya Zemlya, things aren't looking great for the longevity of nuclear test ban norms. China and the U.S. have been modernizing too, though the U.S. has offered to allow monitors on-site to verify U.S. lack of testing. 

 

Jeffrey and Aaron sit down to talk about the recent developments in Russia, and the likelyhood that there will be a return to explosive nuclear testing in the future.

 

The Era Without Arms Control continues, and threatens to deepen.

 

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Direct download: 291.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:41pm EDT

Sam Lair joins the podcast to talk about Kim Jong Un's recent whirlwind tour of the North Korean Defense Industrial Base with Jeffrey and Scott.

If you're into missiles, geolocation, and machine tools (and, if you listen to this podcast, you probably are), you're going to want to tune in.

Sam and Jeffrey have been mapping out the DPRK DIB, including plant managers, machine tool lineages, production lines, and evolutions over time. Kim's visit to these plants, and the accompanying KCNA imagery storm, unlocked a trove of new information about where nuclear delivery systems are produced and maintained, and updated our ideas for how big the arsenal may be.

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Direct download: 289.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:04pm EDT

Jeffrey is joined by the illustrious Kelsey Atherton to discuss Christopher Nolan's film Oppenheimer, as well as the history and legacy of the titular man himself. Kelsey and Jeffrey dive into the choice to focus on Oppenheimer's own security legacy and bypass the direct and indirect horrors affected upon the Congolese miners, New Mexicans, and Japanese civilians, as well as the intentional rendering of power politics and personal animus within the U.S. security apparatus. 

Kelsey penned a companion piece over at the Arms Control Wonk Blog, talking about the wider related experience of watching Barbie and Oppenheimer in the same day. 

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Direct download: Oppenheimer.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:27pm EDT

Jeffrey is back from Hiroshima, where he participated in a Track 2 nuclear dialogue. The outlook for near-term arms control is still grim.

Jeffrey and Aaron unpack the G7 statements on disarmament that the Japanese representatives wanted to re-affirm, the tacit condemnation of Russian and Chinese contained within, and the global theater around narrative control of arms control. 

Russian, US, and third party interpretations of CTBT and disarmament discussions create significant friction, but the discussion is well moderated by the traditional 5:00 happy hour. 

 

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Direct download: 287.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:11am EDT

Germany has a gap that needs to be filled in the face of Russian threats. But this time it isn't Fulda, it is....the exoatmospheric layer of ballistic missile defenses?

Jeffrey and Aaron try to understand Germany's decision to buy the very fancy Israeli/American Arrow-3 exoatmospheric BMD system, in absense of a specific Russian missile system and despite two Aegis Ashore sites coming online in Europe. 

 

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Direct download: 286.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:36pm EDT

Jeffrey is back from Japan and North Korea's satellite-turned-submarine is back from the bottom of the ocean!

North Korea's failed Chollima-1 space launcher and its payload, the Malligyong-1, failed to reach space on May 30. Jeffrey and Aaron talk about the Japanese response to the launch, the North Korean reponse to the failure, and whether or not people are tacitly starting to accept North Korean space capabilities.

Are the DPRK's space capabilities overlapping with their missile capabilities? How far have their technological arcs diverged, and where are they still overlapping? And is the Chollima-1's second stage a stolen Ukrainian design, or something new and domestic?

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Direct download: 285.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:19pm EDT

Ankit Panda joins Jeffrey by the every so fancy pool at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, where they talk about competing speeches and messaging, the views on US-China competition from Southeast Asia, and about how Jeffrey didn't make any new friends in the PLA this year.

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Direct download: 284.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:58pm EDT

Ukraine is getting the SCALP-EG/Storm Shadow cruise missile, and that's raising a whole lot of questions about MTCR guidelines 

Jeffrey and Aaron talk about the history of the Missile Technology Control Regime, what it was meant to originally address, and the whole host of problems associated with figuring out what a destabilizing cruise missile really looks like. 

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Direct download: 282.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:02pm EDT

President Yoon of South Korea recently visited the United States to talk nukes and Don McLean with President Biden.

Jeffrey and Aaron talk through what the Declaration actually covers, how much was material and how much was fluff, and the moonwalking capabilities of the D5 SLBM. 

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Direct download: 281.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:46am EDT

FINALLY. 

After almost a decade of hinting and teasing and parading fake empty canisters, North Korea has debuted its long-awated solid propellant ICBM. And the team have some questions about where the construction and testing sites were...

 

Jeffrey, Scott, and Dave descend upon the CNS DC offices for a rare in-person podcast to commemorate the event we've been waiting on for years.

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Direct download: 218.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:26pm EDT

The IAEA is doing a great job with the s**t we're handing them. A very jetlagged Jeffrey joins Aaron to talk about the IAEA and the very positive role that Director General Rafael Grossi has played in trying to hold together the nuclear situation with Iran. JCPOA-holdover cameras, discontinuity in footage, and a bunch of suddenly friendliness from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia all make for a tense and confusing situation. 

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Direct download: 217.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:25pm EDT

New START has been in peril for years. The first episode of the pod was about the INF Treaty being in danger, and here we are, 8 years later, with almost no arms control treaties left.

Maybe it is time to rename the pod Arms Race Wonk, because the next few years are going to be scary. 

Jeffrey and Aaron talk through the Era Without (Bilateral) Arms Control, the immanent two-front deterrence challenge, and how being scared as **** is the only way we know deterrence is working. 

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Direct download: 216.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:49pm EDT

Jeffrey, Aaron, and Scott say the unthinkable: we're a little tired of the parades. But we're glad the youthes are still ordering pizza and crowding around the computer to watch. 

North Korea paraded at least 15 ICBMs, including 4 that were clearly meant to look like solid-propellent ICBMs. We've been down this road before, they've played with our hearts. But now we're in the era where a solid ICBM is very possible, and a solid ICBM test is expected. 

The team talks about what got paraded, what the solid propellant ICBMs mean, the end of several long-running ACW threads, and Scott gets real excited about big trucks. 

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Direct download: 215.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:43pm EDT

Both plan on going first, but...

President Yoon Suk-yeol of South Korea is being piled on for discussing South Korean pursuits of nuclear weapons (although what he said *exactly* was distorted a little).

In the face of increasing pressure to respond to North Korea's nuclear posture, South Korea is realistically pursuing capabilities for rapid, precision strikes. North Korea feels similarly. 

As Jeffrey always says: both plan on going first in a conflict, but one of them is going to be wrong.  

Jeffrey and Aaron walk through President Yoon's statements, the complexities of the security situation on the Korean Peninsula, and the instabilities that result from mutual pre-emptive strike postures. 

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Direct download: 214.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:13pm EDT

Tyler Nighswander and Mike Nute have developed an incredible tool for detecting long-range missile and space launches by processing and visualizing ionospheric disturbances in GPS data. 


In one of the most fascinating and technically complex episodes of the ACW pod, Tyler and Mike join Jeffrey to talk about their wild new open-source intelligence tool, how it works, and what it means for missile and rocket observation. 

 

A visualization of their work can be seen here: https://twitter.com/ArmsControlWonk/status/1593452159365918722?s=20&t=hAI_EJvR8zCRMqj9u36yuw


And, of course, shout out to the ACW Slack Channel, wherin Tyler and Mike started this project. 

Tyler and Mike can be found on twitter at:  @tylerni7 and @michaelnute

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Direct download: 212.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:14pm EDT

Jeeze that was a big missile.

North Korea has tested another large ICBM, and this one was (another) doozy. Jeffrey and Aaron talk through modelling this missile, the potential theft of missile tech from Ukraine, Kim Jong Un's Bring Your Daughter to Work Day, and the incredible Missile Launch Detection tool that @tylerni7 and @michaelnute have spearheaded in the ACW Slack channel. 

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Direct download: How_Sting_Likes_to_Test.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:52am EDT

The Biden administration has been working to re-kindle New START talks with Russia, while working to deter Russian WMD use in Ukraine, in an era that increasingly appears to be about risk management instead of risk reduction. How do you restart heavily managed talks in an era of COVID restrictions? How do you do on-site inspections during a conventional conflict? 

Jeffrey and Aaron talk through the rough state of international nuclear arms control, the increasingly-complex balance of nuclear forces globally, and the core aspects of what makes deterrence actually work. 

 

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Direct download: 210.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:53am EDT

Launch a missile get a pod

Launch a missile get a pod

Launch a missile get a pod

Launch a missile get a pod

Launch a missile get a pod

Launch a missile get a pod

Launch a missile get a pod

Launch a missile get a pod

Launch a missile get a pod

Launch a missile get a pod

 

Aaron and Jeffrey talk about North Korea's record-setting number of missile launches and what the North Korean launch authorities look like.  A new(?) ICBM, a new Hwasong-12 variant, the bizarre reservoir-bottom lake-missile, and a whole lotta rocket artillery are all keeping the community *very* busy... 

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

 

 

Direct download: 209.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:00pm EDT

The Russian invasion of Ukraine is giving people brain worms. Multiple terrible reports, citing oSiNt aNaLyStS, have recently been released and grossly overexaggerated the risk of nuclear weapons use around Ukraine. These reports, particularly about the "nuclear weapons convoy headed towards Ukraine," don't help anyone and just add noise to a chaotic narrative. 

Jeffrey and Aaron take a knife to bad analysis, and muse on what deterrence actually means to the people living under it.

 

 

Tangentially related, Superproducer Scott is so excited to use this opening again, a year after its last use. 

 

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Direct download: 208.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:54pm EDT

Does North Korea have a triad? Perhaps a boostrapped, janky triad? How mature is their arsenal at this point?

North Korea lobbed a Hwasong-12 over Japan after a week of smaller missile tests, and sparked a testy exchange of missile tests and aircraft scramblings. Jeffrey and Aaron talk about missile overflights, what it means to begrudgingly accept a new nuclear power, and what North Korean nuclear strategy looks like in 2022. 

 

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Direct download: 207.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:25pm EDT

What the heck is going on with the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Planet?
Aaron and Jeffrey walk through the safety situation, the open source assessments of what is going on, and what appears to be a Russian strategy to....steal a power plant?

Links of Note:

Russia Tries to Steal a Nuclear Power Plant, Cheryl Rofer

 

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Direct download: 206.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:24pm EDT

Why isn't North Korea testing nukes? What are the signals and signs that precede a test? 
Jeffrey and Aaron talk testing indicators, the logistics of detonating a nuclear device in North Korea, and the proper use of the Chatham House Rule...

The team talks about the impact of Michael Krepon on the field and on us personally. He will be greatly missed, and his importance and mentorship in the field of arms control cannot be understated. 

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Direct download: 205.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:24pm EDT

As the President visited various states in the Middle East, Jeffrey and Aaron sat down to eulogize the JCPOA renegotiation attempts as they slowly slide farther off the rails. Iran's programs continue and it looks like the U.S. is preparing to continue into the sanctions and containment realm, as Israel continues its seemingly ineffective hardware sabotage campaign. The North Korea-ification of Iran-US relations continues, unabated.
 
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Direct download: 204.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:14pm EDT

Jeffrey and Aaron walk through a piece of foundational field canon, The Wizards of Armageddon by Fred Kaplan, discussing its coverage of institutional and personal decisionmaking, picking apart the concepts of deterrence and compellence, and discussing the seemingly crystalized debate on the same core tenets, decades after the initial events. 

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Direct download: 203.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:00pm EDT

After a brief hiatus due to Jeffrey's house catching on a lil' bit of fire, the Arms Control Wonk team is back to take a look at North Korea's triple missile launch and looming possible nuclear test. 

Jeffrey and Aaron discuss the North Korean nuclear testing schedule, the expectations of precision that open source intelligence has generated, and what it means when half of the attendees at a nuclear conference all simultaneously leave...

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Direct download: 202.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:34am EDT

The U.S. has unilaterally committed to not conducting destructive anti-satellite missile tests!

Jeffrey and Aaron walk through what the U.S. has actually normatively committed to, what this means for potential future attempts at arms control in space, and some of the institutional hurdles the U.S. must overcome for a long-lasting commitment to space-based arms control.

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Direct download: 201.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:54pm EDT

Gerry Doyle and Blake Herzinger join Jeffrey to talk about their new book: Carrier Killer: China's Anti-Ship Ballistic Missiles and Theater of Operations in the early 21st Century.

The group sits down to talk through China's DF-21D and DF-26 missiles. Do they work? What do they do? What can they actually accomplish? How do navies adapt to the new threat environment? 

The group talks through the realities and the puffed up hype around these systems, and how they actually impact strategy and naval operations.

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Direct download: 200.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:06am EDT

...get a pod. 

North Korea has conducted three (and, as I'm typing this, apparently four), ICBM (or ICBM element) tests, with two labelled as "satellite" system tests. 

Jeffrey and Scott talk through an OSINT Oreo: Good OSINT to identify ICBM tests, BAD OSINT claiming that some agricultural fields were missile support areas, and then more good OSINT in the form of Jeffrey's talented class of missile modelers. 

Jeffrey also predicts a Hwasong-17 test is coming, and as this episode is being published, he is proven right. 

Next episode: North Korean Test Bingo Cards.  

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Direct download: 199.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:53am EDT

Should we be worried that Russia may intentionally use nuclear weapons in Ukraine? 

Jeffrey and Aaron discuss the role nuclear weapons, conspiracy theories, and misinformation play within conventional wars and escalation dynamics. 

Aaron posits the Bunga Bunga Theory of Deterrence, wherein an individual actor's rationality can be gauged by the company they keep. 

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Direct download: 198.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:02pm EDT

Russia has invaded Ukraine, and some folks are arguing that Ukraine could've deterred Russia "if it had never given up nuclear weapons."

But they never "had" nuclear weapons. Jeffrey and Aaron talk through the control of nuclear weapons in Ukraine during the Cold War, and the "return" of those weapons to Russia after the fall of the Soviet Union.

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Direct download: 197.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:55pm EDT

Jasmine Owens, Lead Organizer and Policy Coordinator at the Physicians for Social Responsibility, joins Jeffrey to discuss social justice and nuclear weapons.

Jasmine and Jeffrey attack the tough issues facing culture within the nuclear security field, embedded bias, and the disproportionate impact these weapons have on minority and oppressed communities. 

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Direct download: 196.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:30pm EDT

Dr. Michal Onderco, Associate Professor of International Relations in the Department of Public Administration and Sociology at Erasmus University Rotterdam, joins Jeffrey to talk about his new book, Networked Nonproliferation: Making the NPT Permanent. 

Dr. Onderco and Jeffrey talk about the history of the NPT extension, interpersonal relationships in diplomacy, and the methods and study of diplomacy in nuclear treaty-making. 

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

 

Direct download: 195.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:59pm EDT

After North Korea tested its new MaRV twice, a bunch of weird news stories suddenly started breaking about U.S. responses. Flights were grounded in parts of the West Coast, there was a shelter in place order up at the missile defense site in Alaska, and it seemed like someone may have mistook the North Korean test for an ICBM launch. Jeffrey and Aaron talk about the U.S. early warning and ballistic missile defense system, pressures of decisionmaking, and what happens when missile warnings are misunderstood in high-pressure environments. 

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Direct download: 194.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:25pm EDT

North Korea tested what appears to be a maneuverable reentry vehicle (MaRV), which could support a tactical nuclear mission and subvert ballistic missile defenses.


Jeffrey and Aaron talk through the difference between a MaRV and a hypersonic glide vehicle, discuss the development of the DPRK missile industry, and walk through North Korea's tactical nuclear ambitions. 

Other Episodes of Interest:

Glide or Die: When the DPRK tested what appears to be a hypersonic glide vehicle

Iranian Nuclear Talks are Not Going Well: Jeffrey visits our friends on the War on the Rocks Warcast to talk about Iran's recent space launch attempt.

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

Direct download: 193.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:05pm EDT

North Korea seems to be taking its new, small, solid propellant missiles to the sea, after taking them to the show.

Perennial friend of the pod and aficionado of all things submarine Joseph Dempsey of the International Institute of Strategic Studies returns to talk to Jeffrey about what it is that the DPRK tested this time, whether it is the same missile that the DPRK showed off at its recent military expo, and what their submarine program is looking like in 2021.

Previous Episodes with Joseph Dempsey:

North Korea's New SLBM: The Pukguksong-3

North Korea's Missile Submarine(s): Part 3

North Korea's Missile Submarine(s): Part 2

North Korea's Missile Submarine(s): Part 1

North Korea's New Missiles

 

 

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Direct download: 192.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:59pm EDT

This is a complicated one. According to Demetri Sevastopulo at the Financial Times, China tested something that sounds a whole lot like FOBS with an HGV. Something that orbited the globe and dropped a hypersonic glide vehicle against a target. 

Jeffrey, Aaron, and Scott try to figure out what actually was tested (HGV-FOBS? An intercontinental glider? A super-lofted ballistic missile??), talk about what it means to be a "fractional orbital bombardment system" versus a regular ballistic missile, and why the pursuit of perfect missile defenses may make us all less secure.

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Direct download: 191.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:42pm EDT

Glide or die, baby. 

The North Koreans, on a real cavalcade of missile debuts reminiscent of 2017, have tested what they claim to be a hypersonic glide vehicle (HGV). Which means they are just checking off their list of goals, leaving a nuclear powered submarine, a MIRV, and a solid propellant ICBM as the main untested-but-announced capabilities....

While it isn't 100% clear that they actually tested an HGV, the team dissects what it might have been, if a DPRK HGV is realistic, and why HGVs and other missile-defense-defeating technologies fit the DPRK's national strategy perfectly. 

Oh, and FOBS makes an appearance, almost entirely to give Scott nightmares. 

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Direct download: 190.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:53pm EDT

Put another pot of coffee on because it is launch week again. North Korean launched two missiles off of the back of a train this week, right as the president of South Korea watched their own tests of a submarine launched ballistic missile, stealthy air launched cruise missile, ballistic missile test, supersonic anti ship cruise missile test, large diameter solid motor test, and good lord it is a hard week to keep up. Oh right and North Korea is expanding its uranium enrichment facilities. 

One day we'll catch up to AUKUS.

Jeffrey and Scott try to keep up and parse through everything that is happening, from why trains are a strategically sensical choice for North Korean missile basing to why the South Korean conventional SLBM makes us very, very nervous. 

Recent Episodes of Note:

North Korea's recent long-range strategic land-attack cruise missile test: https://armscontrolwonk.libsyn.com/not-lackin-lacms

North Korea's plutonium reprocessing campaign: https://armscontrolwonk.libsyn.com/boiling-fish-at-yongbyon

 

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

Direct download: 189.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:18pm EDT

The DPRK tested a cruise missile, but this time it was a big one. Like "INF Treaty" big, if that term still meant anything. 

The DPRK announced that it launched a 1500 km range cruise missile, after months of hints that a strategic nuclear-capable cruise missile was in the works. While it technically does not fall under the United Nations Security Council resolutions sanctioning DPRK ballistic missile and space tests, it is a huge concern, especially since it is probably meant to carry a nuclear payload one day. 

Jeffrey and Aaron talk about the tech, cruise missile proliferation, how the DPRK has been signaling this capability for a while, and why this is a very serious capability that needs to be addressed.

And, of course, they make fun of the JLENS.

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Direct download: 188.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:53pm EDT

Looks like Yongbyon is running a little hot.

The IAEA has announced that it believes the DPRK is conducting a plutonium reprocessing campaign at Yongbyon. 

Jeffrey and Aaron discuss why the DPRK would want to do this. What could the mystery be? Why would the DPRK reprocess plutonium?

For nukes. It's for nukes. Basically like the DPRK has been saying. 

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Direct download: 187.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:06pm EDT

Jeffrey and his team fear no cloud. Working with Capella Space to acquire cloud-piercing synthetic aperture radar (SAR) data, the MIIS team has been monitoring eternally-cloudy Novaya Zemlya, Russia, for evidence of Burevestnik nuclear-powered cruise missile tests.

Evidence pointed to the Burevestnik test site being revived after the previous failures, and the team started utilizing radar returns to obviate the satellite-imagery-frustrating weather that plagues Russia's northern nuclear test ranges. 

Jeffrey and Aaron discuss remote sensing technical education, and the value of teaching practical imagery interpretation, technical processing skills, and how to evaluate imagery at a non-technical level.

 Previous Episodes:

Discussing the tragic accident during the previous Burevestnik test.

Links of Note:

Zachary Cohen's CNN article on monitoring the Burevestnik.

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

Direct download: 186.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:48am EDT

Bad news abounds for Iranian and US returns to JCPOA compliance.

Aaron and Jeffrey talk through the frustration around breakout time requirements, the timidity of the Biden administration, and the shortfalls of the wait-and-see approach. 

 

Links of Note:

The Economist article on OSINT, including Arms Control Wonk and the Slack channel, which is filled with only the most brilliant and beautiful of people, whom all listeners should aspire to emulate: 

https://www.economist.com/briefing/2021/08/07/open-source-intelligence-challenges-state-monopolies-on-information

 

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

Direct download: 185.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:45am EDT

Matt Korda and Hans Kristensen with the Federation of American Scientists have tracked down what appears to be a second field of missile silos near Hami, Xinjiang. 

Aaron, Jeffrey, and Scott gather up to discuss the rapidly increasing number of missile silos, what this means for the shell game theory, how many missiles and warheads could be in the PLARF's ICBM arsenal, and how China strategically responds to U.S. ballistic missile defenses. 

Links of Note:

Our first episode on the first field of silos: https://armscontrolwonk.libsyn.com/nuclear-silos-in-the-chinese-desert

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

Direct download: 184.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:27pm EDT

American weapons systems need better names.

Tom Karako, Director of the Missile Defense Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, joins Jeffrey to talk about just what it is that inspires soldiers: Legendary, heroic, and historical names, not descriptive acronyms and jargon. What, are ALCM and JASSM not as sexy as Hades or Pluton?

Tom explains his philosophical and classical background, and the inspiration for his article in War on the Rocks about giving U.S. weapons systems respectable names more befitting of their purpose. 

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

Direct download: 183.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:02pm EDT

Decker Eveleth and Jeffrey Lewis's team at CNS have found 119 silos for ICBMs out in the deserts of China. That's the largest expansion of PRC silos in history, by far, but it isn't totally clear what is going on, and whether each of these Bouncy Castles of Death represents a new missile or if there are some decoys in the mix...

Aaron and Jeffrey discuss how Decker found these silos out in the middle of the desert, whether each silo has its own missile or if this is a Shell Game with empty silos and decoys, and how this is going to impact arms control incentives in the very near future. 

 

Further Reading:

Jeffrey's op-ed in Foreign Policy: https://foreignpolicy.com/2021/06/30/china-nuclear-weapons-silos-arms-control/

Catherine Dill's article on new test silos at Wuzhai: https://www.armscontrolwonk.com/archive/1205826/open-silos/

Decker Eveleth and Scott LaFoy's article on possible silos at Sundian: https://www.armscontrolwonk.com/archive/1208828/possible-icbm-modernization-underway-at-sundian/

Hans Kristensen's articles on DF-41 training silos at Jilantai, which constituted the foundational discovery of DF-41 silos in open source research: 

https://fas.org/blogs/security/2019/09/china-silo-df41/

https://fas.org/blogs/security/2021/02/plarf-jilantai-expansion/

 

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

Direct download: 182.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:33pm EDT

Jeffrey's team is at it again. 

This time, they (and Jonathan McDowell!) caught an unannounced (and failed) Iranian space launch attempt and have now caught what appears to be a second unannounced (and failed) Iranian space launch attempt. 

The failed launch detection was covered by Zachary Cohen and Oren Liebermann at CNN, who were kind enough to get the Pentagon to confirm that the first launch did, in fact, fail. We're still waiting to hear about that second one though...

Jeffrey and Scott walk through Iran's textbook space launch preparations, how Jeffrey's team tracked the preparation and launch, and how one assesses that a rocket flight failed in absence of a big, obvious explosion.

 

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

Please note that any views expressed on the Arms Control Wonk Podcast are the views of individual hosts, and do not represent the views of hosts' respective employers.

Direct download: 181.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:35pm EDT

Is the Nuclear Posture Review something worth doing, or a massive waste of time and political capital?

Jeffrey and Aaron vote "waste." The NPR takes up a ton of time, leaves policy on autopilot during its duration, and burns a ton of bandwidth that could be used for actual reflection and policy change. 

But what is more valuable? No Review at all? An Integrated Deterrence Review? The team walks through the pitfalls of the NPR, propose some modest alternatives, and outline a possible alternative mission for the Missile Defense Agency....

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

Direct download: 180.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:55pm EDT

The hype is real. Maybe it's a branding thing, maybe people forget ballistic missiles are a thing, maybe nobody thinks "glider force" sounds cool. But whatever the reason, people keep calling hypersonic glide vehicles fast compared to existing missile systems.

Jeffrey and Aaron discuss hypersonic weapons, what people keep getting wrong about them, and why the D5 missile is so dang cool.

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

Direct download: 179.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:42pm EDT

On April 20, an Israeli twitter user posted a video of a large smoky cloud to his Twitter account with the comment “A mysterious explosion in northern Israel.”

Jeffrey and his team tracked down the "mysterious explosion," identifying it as a solid rocket motor test for an unknown missile or space system.

Aaron and Jeffrey walk through the team's methodology, how they found the site, how they identified that it was a rocket motor, and how CNS's knowledgebase of missile industrial facilities assists in rapidly disproving disinformation. 

https://www.armscontrolwonk.com/archive/1211676/israeli-rocket-motor-test/

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

Direct download: 178.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:38pm EDT

North Korea has been active the past few weeks, launching a set of cruise missiles (probably just coastal defense systems) and a separate set of ballistic missiles (which look like stretched KN23 short-range ballistic missiles) a few days later. But these events were received very differently by the Biden administration and analysts.

Jeffrey, Aaron, and Scott discuss why these events were  received so differently, what the deal is with North Korea's newest short-range ballistic missile system, and what the Biden administration may be getting itself into with its denuclearization policy.

 

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

Please note that any views expressed on the Arms Control Wonk Podcast are the views of individual hosts, and do not represent the views of hosts' respective employers.

Direct download: 177.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:19pm EDT

Biden campaigned on rejoining the JCPOA, but some of that enthusiasm has dried up since he took office.


Aaron and Jeffrey debate what's going on, strategies for negotiating re-joining the JCPOA, and the fallacy of letting the perfect get in the way of the good as people begin to advocate for "waiting for a better deal" again.

Also, it is a good time to start listening to Season Two of The Deal, available at IranDealPodcast.com and Apple Podcasts.

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

Direct download: 176.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:25pm EDT

President Biden has extended New START for five more years. But what are we going to do with those years? How to we actually advance stability?

Aaron and Jeffrey talk about the steps necessary to secure stable, effective arms control treaties, the history of arms control, and the importance of tacking missile defenses alongside offensive systems.

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

Direct download: 175.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:54pm EDT

Iran unveiled a new (mostly) solid-propellant space launcher, the Zoljanah!

But it looks....different than the other space launchers. Besides having a new fuel type, the Zoljanah may not have many IRGC or military fingerprints on it, indicating that the Iranian solid-propellant programs are robust and expansive.

Jeffrey and Aaron talk Iranian space programs, civilian vs. military control of research programs, and, of course, why a solid-propellant launcher makes a difference. 

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

Direct download: 174.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:25pm EDT

Israel maintains a technologically advanced but understudied ballistic missile arsenal. 

Jeffrey and Aaron dive into the French, South African, and American influences on the arsenal, how to model the Jericho missile families, and the history of the Israeli ballistic missile program.

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

Direct download: 173.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:13pm EDT

North Korea put on *another* parade, during the 8th Congress of the Workers' Party of Korea. 

Kim Jong Un dropped some fascinating details about what the DPRK has allegedly completed, and what they may be working on, including a possible nuclear submarine and intermediate-range cruise missile. Then, he paraded some new missile hardware, including a new solid-fuel SLBM and some new short range systems. 

And, to top it off, Jeffrey and Dave Schmerler found that the SLBM-test platform in Nampho harbor has been moved for a possible refurb, meaning SLBM tests may be possible in the near future.

Jeffrey and Scott try to parse out what the North Koreans have built, what they showed us at the parade, and what is to come this year.

 

For our episode on the gigantic new as-of-yet-unnamed ICBM (nicknamed the Hwasong-16 or the Hwasong-X), click here.

For our episode on the October 2020 Military Parade in North Korea, click here.

 

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

Please note that any views expressed on the Arms Control Wonk Podcast are the views of individual hosts, and do not represent the views of hosts' respective employers.

Direct download: 172.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:50pm EDT

On Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019, at 8:30 a.m. Pacific Time, the U.S. Air Force, in partnership with the Strategic Capabilities Office, conducted a flight test of a prototype conventionally-configured ground-launched ballistic missile from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. 

But just what the heck did the DOD actually test? Jeffrey and team turn their analytic methods towards figuring out exactly what this strange, Frankenmissile was, and the open-source research lessons that can be gleaned from academic papers and unclassified laboratory newsletters.

 

And yes, we know it is actually Frankenstein's Missile, Frankenstein was actually the prime contractor. 

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

Direct download: 171.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:30pm EDT

Nancy Pelosi has indicated that Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has assured her that there are safeguards against an "unstable president" accessing "the launch codes" and launching a nuclear strike. 

Jeffrey and Aaron discuss why that is wrong (and/or illegal), what the actual launch process is, and what the political strategy behind Nancy Pelosi's message may be.

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

The Donald and The Nuclear VI: Pushin' My Buttons

 

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

Direct download: 170.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:53pm EDT

Jeffrey and crew have been busy at work modelling the giant ICBM that the DPRK paraded in October 2020, as well as tracing out its possible industrial provenance.

Aaron and Jeffrey talk through modelling methodologies, North Korean industrial espionage, and how to build robust public policies to account for uncertainty.  

For our episode on the October 2020 Military Parade in North Korea, click here.

 

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

Direct download: 169.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:12pm EDT

At the end of this awful year, Jeffrey and Aaron talk about the future of arms control, the future of analytics, and the future of the pod. 2021 will have a lot going on: New START expiration or extension, new facilities in Iran, figuring out what the heck the North Koreans are doing, what's going on with anti-satellite missiles, and more.

Head over to the Arms Control Wonk slack channel to voice your opinion on what topics we should prioritize, because we have a lot of them and not everything's getting covered! 

 

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

Direct download: 168.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:49pm EDT

Jeffrey and Aaron share stories about the life of Dennis Gormley, renowned proliferation scholar and celebrated professor. Dennis's work on cruise missile proliferation, tacit knowledge, and industrial expertise was foundational to the field of proliferation studies, and he was a caring, dedicated educator. 

Dennis was a good friend and mentor, and is greatly missed. 

Direct download: 167.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:50pm EDT

On 10/10/2020, the 75th Anniversary of the Founding of the Worker's Party of Korea, the DPRK showed of a lot of missiles. Again. In addition to all the stuff they've been testing over the last two years, they introduced a new, oddly shaped solid-propellent missile, the Pukguksong-4, and what appears to be the largest TEL-based liquid propellant ICBM in history. 

Kim Jong Un gave the clearest declaration of DPRK nuclear policy to date. 

Jeffrey, Anne, and Scott sit down for Anne's last official episode and talk about what we saw, what that it means for North Korea's nuclear posture, and what the DPRK's nuclear policy and strategy actually is. 

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

Direct download: 166_TheParade.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:39pm EDT

Melissa Hanham, director of Datayo and Deputy Director of the Open Nuclear Network, joins Jeffrey and Scott to talk about Datayo, a project aimed at reducing nuclear risks and fostering a transparent, collaborative, and high-quality analytic information environment.

Scott fawns over Datayo's video annotation capabilities for military hardware tracking, and Melissa talks about how much bandwidth Jeffrey's satellite imagery habits actually eat up.

Everybody competes to correctly do the podcast's outro. 

Go check out Datayo!

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

Direct download: 164_Saving_the_World_with_Datayo.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:31pm EDT

Now that a few episodes have dropped, Anne and Jeffrey talk about Jeffrey's new project, The Deal

Jeffrey chronicles how researchers like Corey Hinderstein chased down data before satellite imagery was so easily available, Wendy Sherman's incredible memory for names, and just how many BBs Jeffrey has in his car.

The Deal tells the story of the Iran nuclear deal: how it came together, how it fell apart, and what that means for the rest of us. Hosted by Dr. Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. He tweets @armscontrolwonk.

Learn more at IranDealPodcast.com and listen in at Apple Podcasts.

Direct download: 165_TheDeal.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:25pm EDT

How do we step back from the brink and reduce the very real threat that nuclear weapons continue to pose? Nuclear weapons continue to impact people's lives, even if they are sometimes treated as historical threats of a prior era.

Jeffrey and Aaron sit down with Lisa Perry and Dr. William Perry, 19th Secretary of Defense, to discuss their work conducting interviews with and chronicling the personal stories of presidents, cabinet members, congressmen, nuclear physicists, atomic bomb survivors, military officials, and activists in their podcast, At the Brink, and through the William J. Perry Project.

They've pulled together incredible personal stories and interviews with individuals involved in the negotiations of the Iran Deal, the exfiltration of bomb-grade uranium from Kazakhstan, and the implementation of the Nunn-Lugar program that reduce former Soviet nuclear stockpiles by over 4,000 devices.

And, of course, a history of nuclear and missile crises with North Korea, featuring one Dr. Jeffrey Lewis.

Links of Note:

At The Brink, and its parent project, the William J. Perry Project

Direct download: 163.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:53pm EDT

In 2002, Corey Hinderstein, a young research analyst, follows a hunch after a routine press conference in Washington, D.C. The results of her scavenger hunt sparked a diplomatic crisis that stretched more than a decade, lasted through two presidencies, and ended with a deal that, depending on whom you ask, either “makes our country, and the world, safer and more secure” or is “a horrible deal that should never, ever have been made.”

The Deal tells the story of the Iran nuclear deal: how it came together, how it fell apart, and what that means for the rest of us. Hosted by Dr. Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. He tweets @armscontrolwonk. 

Learn more at IranDealPodcast.com and listen in at Apple Podcasts.

Direct download: The_Deal_09.05.20_Ep1_HBMIX.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:28pm EDT

The Deal: The story of the Iran nuclear deal; how it came together, how it fell apart, and what that means for the rest of us.

Hosted by Dr. Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. 

You can find The Deal on Apple Podcasts or your preferred podcast platform. 

Direct download: theDeal.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:33pm EDT

In 2018, the US and the UAE conducted a joint military exercise called Diamond Tempest.

While looking through still images and videos from the exercise, Jeffrey and his colleagues at CNS thought it would make a great case study. 

Just how much can we learn using open source tools? They were able to piece together a detailed timeline of the exercise and figure out which bits of footage didn't belong.

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

Direct download: 162.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:05pm EDT

The war in Yemen has seen the highest usage of ballistic missiles since the Iraq War, and the highest usage of ballistic missile defense assets in any conflict, offering a preview of any future conflicts with Iran.

Aaron and Scott talk about a new CSIS report, The Missile War in Yemen, the utility and difficulties in producing accurate datasets on ballistic missile usage in Yemen, and the operational lessons learned by air and missile defense strategists during the ongoing conflict in Yemen.

Scott unironically uses the phrase "theory of missile power."

Links of Note:

Ian Williams and Shaan Shaikh's Missile War in Yemen, CSIS: https://missilethreat.csis.org/report-the-missile-war-in-yemen/

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

Direct download: 161.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:25pm EDT

Another day, another suspected nuclear facility in North Korea.

Anne and Jeffrey discuss the Wollo-ri Suspected Nuclear Warhead Manufacturing Facility. 

They discuss how the CNS team has monitored this site since 2015, the satellite imagery analysis that went into it, and Ankit Panda's impressive sourcing. They also discuss the immediate pushback, claims that this site is a training facility, and the open-source methods used to evaluate this site. 

Arms Control Wonk post on the Wollo-Ri Facility, by Catherine Dill, David Laboon, Jeffrey Lewis, and Dave Schmerler: https://www.armscontrolwonk.com/archive/1209644/wollo-ri-nuclear-facility/

CNN reporting on the Wollo-Ri analysis: https://www.cnn.com/2020/07/08/politics/north-korea-nuclear-facility-wollo-ri-satellite-images/index.html

Daily NK report claiming Wollo-Ri is not a nuclear facility: https://www.dailynk.com/english/source-nuclear-pyongyang-just-school/

 

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

Direct download: 160.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:57pm EDT

In a cross-over podcast with FPRI’s Middle East Brief, Aaron speaks with Fabian Hinz, a frequent guest on the podcast, about the recent explosions in Iran and what open source intelligence has revealed about the two incidents.

You can find the Foreign Policy Research Institute's Middle East Brief at: https://www.fpri.org/multimedia/middle-east-brief/

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

Direct download: 159.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:28pm EDT

John Hudson and Paul Sonne at the Washington Post broke the story that Trump administration officials have discussed conducting additional nuclear tests in the United States. 

Jeffrey and Anne discuss why this is a bad idea, how this would disproportionately benefit U.S. nuclear competitors, and the primarily political (not technical) utility of a "rapid" nuclear test. 

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

Direct download: 158.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:26pm EDT

Turkey previously announced that its S400 air defense regiment would be activated and in service by the end of April, 2020, after its delivery from Russia in 2019.

Since it is now May 2020, with no S400 deployment in sight, Aaron and Scott sat down with Rob Lee for an in-depth talk about what could be holding it up. 

Rob Lee is pursuing his PhD at the Department of War Studies at King's College London. He was previously a Marine infantry officer and fellow at the Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies (CAST). 

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

Direct download: 157.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:14pm EDT

The Wall Street Journal reported that "China might be secretly conducting nuclear tests with very low explosive power" based on the State Department's 2020 Annual Compliance Report, but that is not quite what the report actually says.

Jeffrey and Anne sit down to talk about open-source tracking of the Lop Nur nuclear testing site, the difference types of nuclear-related tests, and how one little treaty could make a big difference in preventing actual nuclear explosive tests. 

Direct download: 156.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:44am EDT

Iran launched a small satellite into orbit. But more importantly, it was Iran's revolutionary guards, not the civilian space program, that did the launching -- and with a new solid rocket motor as the second stage. Fabian Hinz joins Jeffrey to talk about the IRGC space program and break down its most recent launch.

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

Direct download: 155.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:13am EDT

In mid-April, Russia tested a direct ascent anti-satellite missile (DA ASAT), the Nudol/PL19, against a point in space.

Anti-satellite weapons are an old favorite of the pod, so Anne, Aaron, and Jeffrey meet to discuss the history of anti-satellite weapons, the U.S. negotiating strategy that led to the spread of hit-to-kill and anti-satellite weapons, and the hypocrisy of certain PR statements. They also gush over open-source collection and analysis of NOTAMs, which allowed Michael Thompson to predict the ASAT test ahead of time.

Check out previous Arms Control Wonk episodes about Hit-to-Kill and Anti-Satellite Weapons:

2019's Mission Shakti: The Indian Anti-Satellite Test

2016's China's HQ-19 Hit-to-Kill Interceptor

2014's Satellites Under Threat: The Spread of Hit-To-Kill

 

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

 

Direct download: 154.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:48am EDT

The International Atomic Energy Agency has questions about three sites in Iran -- but Iran doesn't feel like answering. Aaron, Anne and Jeffrey discuss the atomic archive, access to suspect facilities, and environmental sampling.

Plus, there are a few things in recent IAEA reports that worry us.

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

Direct download: 153.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:26pm EDT

The People's Liberation Army Rocket Forces used to be a nearly opaque organization to all but a few open-source researchers. Now, increased availability of satellite-imagery and public media enable open-source exploitation and tracking of PRC missile forces like never before. 

Decker Eveleth joins Jeffrey and Scott to discuss open-source tracking PRC missile brigades, his geolocated order of battle KMZ, and the increasing accessibility of open-source research methods. 

Links of Note:

Decker's blog and PLARF ORBAT in KMZ form: https://www.aboyandhis.blog/post/mapping-the-people-s-liberation-army-rocket-force

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

Direct download: 152.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:31pm EDT

Mort Halperin a giant as an academic and a policy practitioner. And he's working on a memoir that covers his sixty year career in foreign policy. Mort played an important role in the US decision to revert Okinawa to Japanese control without nuclear weapons -- a case study Jeffrey teaches in is class on decision-making. Jeffrey talks to Mort about that pivotal period in US-Japanese relations.

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

Direct download: 151.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:18pm EDT

Joe Biden is the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee. While the popular perception of Biden is that he's quite moderate, on nuclear issues he's always been relatively progressive.

Aaron and Jeffrey discuss Biden and bomb.

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

Direct download: 150.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:03pm EDT

China's People's Liberation Army Rocket Force (PLARF) has been very busy in the last few years, testing new high-tech missiles and standing up new launch brigades. 

Superproducer Scott joins Jeffrey and Anne to talk about reports of the PLARF test launching over 100 missiles in 2019, rapidly expanding since 2017, and some of the data issues with analysis of the PRC's nuclear and missile arsenal. 

Links of Note:

The PLARF launched over 100 missiles in 2019: https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2020/02/50ceb602df35-china-fires-over-100-missiles-in-2019-far-more-than-us.html

The PLARF stands up 11 brigades since 2017: https://www.popsci.com/story/blog-eastern-arsenal/china-missile-force-growing/

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

Direct download: 149.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:52am EDT

James Palmer of the UK's Atomic Weapons Establishment joins the ACW trio to talk about the importance of 3D modelling and data visualization, including recreations of North Korea's Punggye-ri nuclear test site and virtual reality training simulations.

Links of Note, Courtesy of James Palmer:

  1. Enhanced briefings for a CTBTO On-site Inspection SnT2017  (Palmer and Stevanović).
  2. How to put technical data into an enhanced briefing (Palmer and Stevanović).
  3. Presenting work on the DPRK test site destruction event SnT2019 (Palmer and Selby).
  4. Comparative talk for test site, showing 3D visualisation capability at SnT2015 (Pabian), from 3 minutes 20 seconds in.
Software discussed during podcast.

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

Direct download: 148.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:13pm EDT

Iran tested a satellite launch vehicle, and it failed. But this isn't a reason to cheer.

Iran showed off a lot of goodies this month, pointing to an active solid-propellant missile program and has no said a future satellite launch is going to use a solid-propellant space launch vehicle. 

This is bad news.

Aaron and Jeffrey talk about Iran's space program and why we should embrace the Simorgh and worry about the future.

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

Direct download: 147.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:40pm EDT

After the Iranian ballistic missile raid on U.S. forces in Iraq, the IRGC appears to have accidentally shot down a Ukrainian airliner flying out of Tehran. The Iranian government took about 3 days to admit that it was shot down, initially denying that it was shot down.

Prior to the admission, the Arms Control Wonk Podcast slack channel jumped on the case and started a collaborative open-source intelligence effort to figure out what actually had happened and if Iran's denial held water.

Friend of the pod Patrick Kerley joins Jeffrey to talk about the Arms Control Wonk Podcast slack channel's collaborative OSINT efforts at tracking down details of Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752, including tracking flight paths, pulling satellite imagery, and locating videos based on sound cues. 

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

Direct download: 146.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:36am EDT

As it turns out, the ACW trio thinks that Iran’s missiles are accurate. Super accurate. As Anne flies across the United States, Aaron and Jeffrey spoke about Iran’s ballistic missile strikes Ain Assad Air Base in Iraq, why the strike on Erbil may have been an outlier, and how nobody is in control of escalation.

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

Direct download: 145.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:27pm EDT

The ACW crew discusses the JCPOA...again. Iran has announced its 5th step away from the JCPOA. The trio discusses what that means, what it doesn't mean, and where we go from here. 

And, for your ease of reference, Iran's Five Steps:

  1. May 2019: No longer limit stockpiles of LEU or heavy water
  2. July 2019: No longer limit uranium enrichment to 3.67%
  3. September 2019: Abandoned all limits on R&D for new centrifuges 
  4. November 2019: Resume uranium enrichment at Fordow, resulting in a podcast.
  5. January 2020: Abandon limits on number of centrifuges. 

 

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

Direct download: 144.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:38pm EDT

Launch a missile, get a pod, post-INF Treaty edition. 

On December 12, 2019, the U.S. Air Force and the Strategic Capabilities office tested a "prototype conventionally-configured, ground-launched ballistic missile" from Vandenberg AFB. The trio talks Twitter hot takes, the Strategic Capabilities Office, the future of U.S. missile procurement, and the future of intermediate-range ballistic missiles.

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

Direct download: 143.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:59pm EDT

Sohae is open for business!

The ACW Gang talks North Korea's recent engine test at Sohae and marvels (again) at the power of satellite imagery. Was this test Kim's "Christmas Gift" to Trump? Or just a stocking stuffer? 

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Direct download: 142.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:52pm EDT

What is the future of the Open Skies Treaty? The Arms Control Wonk trio talk the Open Skies Treaty, the conspiracy theories that now permeate the debate about Russian aircraft, and why the treaty matters.

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Direct download: 141.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:30pm EDT

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has announce yet another "step" away from the JCPOA, the fourth this year. As Iran resumes feeding UF6 into some of the cascades at the Fordow Enrichment Plant, Anne and Jeffrey discuss the steps that led us here and the prospect for preserving the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

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Direct download: 140.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:45am EDT

Everybody loves a parade, especially one with missiles and drones.  

Superproducer Scott joins Jeffrey and Anne to discuss the new hardware displayed in early October, and how great it is to watch the PRC's flag-raising ceremony.

Scott has waited seven years for this parade, so that he can finally get a legitimate high-resolution shot of the DF-41 solid propellant ICBM. Less expected were the DF-17 hypersonic glide vehicle, the JL-2 submarine-launched ballistic missile, the "WZ-8" air-launched rocket-powered drone, and, of course, the almighty gyrocopter. 

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Direct download: 137.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:38am EDT

The New York Times reported recently that US officials are considering removing US nuclear weapons from Turkey. Aaron knows a bit about this, so Jeffrey called in from his car on the road to San Francisco, and Anne called in from a foggy Monterey to talk about nuclear weapons in Turkey.

Producer's Note: Due to the impromptu nature of this podcast, audio quality is poor. Apologies for any gnashing of teeth.

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Direct download: 139.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:34am EDT

It is finally here! Two years after seeing posters for the Pukguksong-3 during Kim Jong Un's visit to the Chemical Material Institute of the Academy of Defense Science in 2017, the North Korea has finally tested the next generation of its submarine launched ballistic missiles. 

Joseph Dempsey of the International Institute of Strategic Studies returns to talk with Jeffrey about the new SLBM, the possible new submarine, and the difficulty of deploying an SLBM. 

Our previous epic, three-part podcast with Joseph below:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

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Direct download: 138.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:55am EDT