Arms Control Wonk

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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

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

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.

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

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.

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

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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.

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

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 EST

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