Arms Control Wonk

Jeffrey and his team have been OSINT'ing the heck out of the deployment of the Typhon Strategic Mid-Range Fires (SMRF) ((Typhon Smurf?)) to the Philippines, and tracked down the airport and deployment zone.

Recently the U.S. Army deployed the new Typhon SMRF system to the Philippines as part of an exercise, raising the ire of both the Russian and Chinese governments. The Army seemed to try and keep it relatively low profile initially but the Philippines just....tweeted it out basically. 

As the Pacific continues to bristle with missiles, Jeffrey and Aaron talk about regional escalation dynamics, who is buying what missiles, and who they are (or aren't?) actually pointed at...

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Direct download: 300.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:31pm EDT

Tom Schelling described escalation as a "curved slope" where you won't be able to predict when the final drop occurs, and Ukraine targeting an early warning radar in Russia certainly is at least a few steps down that slop.

Jeffrey and Aaron sit down at the intersection of "legitimate conventional military target" and "direct cause of nuclear escalation" to talk about the risks and justifications for bringing EW systems into a conflict, and discuss James Acton's idea of modern entanglement, and the connection between modern conventional and nuclear operations.

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Direct download: 299.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:16pm EDT

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