Arms Control Wonk

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.

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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/

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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/

 

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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. 

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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). 

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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/

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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. 

 

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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.

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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.

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

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

Iran may have just rocketed oil facilities in Saudi Arabia. The ACW trio asks what else is new, after time spent analyzing Qiam strikes on Riyadh.

With tensions increasing in the Gulf, and questions about a potential US strike to punish Iran for its cruise missile strike, Aaron, Anne, and Jeffrey are joined by Fabian Hinz to talk Iranian cruise missiles and recent events in the Gulf.

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!
Direct download: 136.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:07pm EDT

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking just days before an election, revealed an alleged new nuclear site in Iran, dubbed Abadeh. 

On this week's episode, the ACW trio talk about the revelation, what the satellite pictures show may be happening at the site, and why Iran's razing of the site doesn't match up to the full Lavizan-Shian treatment- at least not yet. 

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Direct download: 135.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:57am EDT

Russia tested something and maybe kinda sorta told the truth about a subsequent spike in radiation. 
What happened? who knows?
In this episode, the ACW trio discuss the explosion in Nenoksa and why it may have been a test to support the Skyfall (Burevestnik) program that went wrong.

 

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Direct download: 134.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:47pm EDT

During one of the Democratic Presidential primary debates, Elizabeth Warren and Governor Whats-his-name sparred over nuclear weapons, no-first use and deproliferation. Aaron, Anne and Jeffrey discuss the use of jargon in gate-keeping and the merits of various proposals relating to no first use.

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Direct download: 133.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:51pm EDT

Jeffrey and Anne attended the CTBTO's 2019 Science and Technology Conference in Vienna, which means this is another Wienerpod!

Aaron calls in to get the lowdown on the state of the CTBT and the evolving technological environment for nuclear test detection. 

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Direct download: 132.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:41pm EDT

Turkey used a ballistic missile, the Bora, for the first time in combat.

Launch a missile, get a pod!

Aaron, Anne and Jeffrey discuss the Bora, geolocating the launch site, and the state of missile proliferation in the Middle East.

 

Our 2017 episode on the Bora.

 

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

Direct download: 131.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:10pm EDT

The United States intelligence community, or a portion of it, has concluded that Russia is conducting very low-yield nuclear tests. Aaron and Jeffrey discuss past allegations of nuclear testing, open source monitoring of Russia's nuclear test site at Novaya Zemlya and how the Trump Administration might change its mind on the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

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Direct download: 130.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:50pm EDT

If see any news coverage about missile threats in the Middle East, nine times out of ten it is Iran's missiles that are in the news. But Iran is just one of many countries in the region.

Egypt, Israel, Turkey Saudi Arabia and Syria all produce, to one degree or another, their own missiles. And there are more states like Yemen, the UAE and Qatar that have imported missiles.

CNS and the Nuclear Threat Initiative are launching a Middle East Missile Map to explore the regional context of missile proliferation.

 

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Direct download: 129.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:53pm EDT

A nuclear archive. JCPOA news. B-52 bomber task forces. A naval armada. And Scuds on ships. What could go wrong? To break down all things Iran, Jeffrey and Aaron spoke about the latest happenings in and with Iran.

 

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Direct download: 128.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:18pm EDT

Launch a missile, get a podcast. North Korea launched a short-range missile over the weekend and a Planet satellite was there to see it.

Jeffrey and Anne discuss the one in a million picture, the missile itself and what it might mean for the final fully verified denuclearization of North Korea as agreed (or not) by Chairman Kim.

 

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Direct download: 127.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:37pm EDT

The Trump Administration approved some 810s to Saudi Arabia.  And INVAP is building a low power research reactor in Riyadh.  What's an 810?  What's INVAP?  It's complicated.  You'll just have to listen to the podcast as Jeffrey and Aaron discuss how people are over-reacting to the latest Saudi nuclear news while also noting that it is time for Saudi Arabia to put in place a Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA.  Well, Saudi already has a CSA. Like we said, its complicated. 
 
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Direct download: 126.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:02pm EDT

Test a missile, get a pod. Kill a satellite? Get a podcast with a special guest. Ankit Panda joins Aaron and Jeffrey to discuss India's recent anti-satellite test. Also, Jeffrey says he told you so. (Again.)

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

Direct download: 125.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:15pm EDT

The summit in Hanoi was a bust. 
New podcast co-host Anne Pellegrino joins Jeffrey and Aaron to discuss, as Joshua Pollack calls it, the Scapegoat Rodeo in Hanoi.
 
 

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Direct download: 124.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:43pm EDT

The Chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform wants answers to allegations about influence peddling and a grandiose plan to sell Saudi Arabia up to 40 nuclear reactors.

This week, Aaron and Jeffrey dig into the interim staff report detailing the allegations, what the purported IP3 plan really means, and safeguards on civil nuclear technology. 

 

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Direct download: 123.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:56pm EDT

Judging from Twitter, the Munich Security Conference is talking about
the demise of the INF Treaty.  Jeffrey, back in California after his
sojourn to Vermont and Aaron revisit INF pods of the past to focus on
what really matters: Getting Taylor Swift to cover Nena's 99
Luftballoons.

Direct download: 122.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:06pm EDT

Andrea hosts one last KCN-eh? before heading off to the Great White North. Jeffrey joins in to talk about North Korea's other developments from January, including the site of the second Trump-Kim summit, U.S. Special Representative Stephen Beigun's speech at Stanford, and how to mimic denuclearization without denuclearizing.

 

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Direct download: 121.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:55pm EDT

Satellite images taken by Planet Labs appear to show that Saudi Arabia has constructed a plant to manufacture solid propellant ballistic missiles.

Jeffrey and Aaron talk about the CNS team's latest find.

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Direct download: 120.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:21pm EDT

Russia tested a hypersonic missile, or at least they claimed to. As of now, Putin and Russian media have told us a lot, but what do we really know about Avangard?

Aaron and Jeffrey are joined by James Acton from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace to discuss hypersonics, missile defense, and what Russia's Avangard may actually look like. 

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

 

Direct download: 119.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:11pm EDT

Jeffrey and Aaron return from the holidays to talk about ... North Korea. 

Kim Jong Un gave his traditional New Year's  Day speech.

On the first day of 2017, Kim signaled the ICBM test that was to come. And on the first day of 2018, he hinted at the diplomatic thaw that would bring “love letters” and a finger-heart. So what does 2019 have in store for us?

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Direct download: 118.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:40am EDT

The CNS OSINT team did it again. While doing what one does on the weekend, looking at DPRK missile bases, Jeffrey and his team found a new missile base.

In this week’s episode, Aaron and Jeffrey talk through the finding, Josh Pollack’s meta op-ed on what OSINT means in today’s media environment, and how OSINT can be used to support the policy process and hold leaders feet to the fire.

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!
Direct download: 117.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EDT

A Canadian discusses the month’s North Korea-related developments with some special guests. For November, Andrea is joined by Cristina Varriale of the Royal United Services Institute, and Hamish Macdonald of the Korea Risk Group. They talk through announcements about postponed meetings, joint military exercises, inter-Korean projects and Chinese border infrastructure. Oh, and puppies. 

 

Links of Note:

Pompeo says meeting with Kim Yong Chol is postponed.

Mattis announces that a scaled-down version of the Foal Eagle exercises will go forward in spring.

 

Reuters on the sanctions exemption for inter-Korean rail survey activities.

 

Hamish’s investigation into the slew of infrastructure development projects along the China-North Korea border.  

 

French national charged with treason for supposedly passing information to North Korea.

 

Did we say puppies?! 

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

Direct download: 115.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:56pm EDT

India has some nuclear naval news, with its defense minister claiming a successful "first deterrent patrol."
What does this mean for Pakistan and nuclear dynamics in the Indian Ocean?
 
Aaron sits down with friends of the pod Ankit Panda and Vipin Narang to talk about the India-Pakistan relationship, India's ballistic missile subs, and Pakistan's cruise missile subs. 
 
This episode started as a Brilliant Pebble and ballooned into a full-blown episode!
 
Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!
Direct download: 114.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:09am EDT

With the US on the precipice of withdrawing from the INF, all eyes have turned to China and its large number of INF range missiles. The think tank community has followed and a bevy of think pieces on basing modes in Asia have been published.

On this week’s episode, Jeffrey and Aaron talk about the cost of the BGM-109G and some of the implications of putting them on land... in the Pacific.

 

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

Direct download: 113.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:51pm EDT

A Canadian reviews the month’s North Korea news together with a special guest. Andrea and Ramon Pacheco-Pardo, the Korea Foundation-Free University Brussels Korea Chair, look at Pompeo’s latest visit to Pyongyang, examine the outcomes of Moon Jae-in’s European tour, and talk about the North Korean middleman now on an FBI Most Wanted poster.

Links of Note:

Details of Pompeo’s October visit to Pyongyang.

NY Times, “South Korea backtracks on easing sanctions after Trump comment”, 11 October 2018.

Ramon’s article for NK News, examining what Moon Jae-in achieved and didn’t on his recent trip to Europe.

The Pope indicates his willingness to visit Pyongyang.

Department of Justice press release concerning the indictment of Singaporean national Tan Wee Beng, for his alleged dealings with North Korea.

 

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Direct download: 112.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:06pm EDT

The end of arms control, or a sub-culture run amok?

In today’s special, live-recorded edition of the Arms Control Wonk podcast, Aaron and Jeffrey talk about the end of the INF, John Bolton's motivations, and the reasons behind the US pull-out (aka the Stormy Daniels).

Previous Podcast Episodes about this Topic:

Tightening the Screws on the INF

An Era Without Arms Control?

The INF, NATO, and the MSC

The Little Green Men and a New Cruise Missile

Russia and the INF: Don't Call it a Circumvention

Is Russia Cheating on the INF Treaty? This was the very first Arms Control Wonk Podcast episode!

 

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Direct download: 111.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:46pm EDT

Aaron and Jeffrey return to the topic to discuss the potential for a New Start extension and what it could mean for the future of the US-Russian relationship.

 

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Direct download: 109.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:05am EDT

US Ambassador to NATO, Kay Bailey Hutchinson, made some news. And not in a good way. She was trying to say that the US would develop countervailing capabilities -- something that started under the Obama Administration and that almost no one disagrees with.

But she mangled the quote and, in doing so, reinforced Russian paranoia about decapitation. The US and Russia seemed determined to relive the horrors of the early 1980s, albeit on accident. Find out why.

 

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Direct download: 110.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:05pm EDT

Andrea is joined again by John Hemmings, Director of Asia Studies at the Henry Jackson Society, to talk about the major developments in North Korea relations during September. They consider Pyongyang’s tamer military parade, examine the optics and outcomes of Moon Jae-in’s trip to North Korea, and look at the way those outcomes are being communicated to the international community at the UN General Assembly.

 

Links of Note:

DPRK’s English version of the Pyongyang declaration

Moon Jae-in’s speech to the 73rd UN General Assembly. 

Joint report on the negotiating situation from the Henry Jackson Society, King’s College London, and the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS).

Full text of the criminal complaint against North Korean hacker Park Jin Hyok.

Hamish Macdonald with all of the happenings at the 8th Rason trade exhibition.

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

Direct download: 108.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EDT

Andrea discusses friction between Europe and the United States over the Iran nuclear deal with Justine Walker, Director of Sanctions at UK Finance. They review European engagement in the Iranian market over the last two years, consider the EU’s reaction to Trump’s withdrawal from the agreement, and examine the implications for companies now caught between two sets of opposing laws. 

 

Links of Note:

Full transcript of Trump’s speech announcing withdrawal from the JCPOA.

US Treasury FAQ on the reimposition of sanctions on Iran.

Daimler abandoning its Iran expansion plans.

UK Finance publications on the EU blocking regulations, Iran, and other sanctions issues.

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

Direct download: 107.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:30am EDT

In today’s episode, Aaron and Jeffrey discuss the 2020 Commission and its relationship with how we are conditioned to think about nuclear weapons. The podcast is filled with spoilers (you’ve been warned), but attempts to use the book — and one of the main characters, President Donald Trump — to discuss nuclear war, American nuclear policy, the rationality of fictional North Korean actions, and the tragedy that would follow any use of the bomb.

We also take the time to discuss our new subscriber benefit, Brilliant Pebbles, a mini-pod about the wide world of weapons of mass destruction. The show will drop every Tuesday and will feature short takes on relevant topics that we would not normally discussing on the big show. 

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!
Direct download: 106.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:35am EDT

In today’s podcast, Aaron and Jeffrey discuss the geolocation work that underpinned Jeffrey’s research for his novel and how open source investigations can be leveraged to inform analysis.

Links of Note:

Previous Arms Control Wonk Podcast episodes on South Korea's missile arsenal:

South Korea's Missile Arsenal Expands

The Hyunmoo-2C: South Korea's 800km Missile

Jeffrey's new book, The 2020 Commission Report on the North Korean Nuclear Attacks Against the United States - A Speculative Novel, can be purchased here!

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

Direct download: 105.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:03am EDT

It's a family pod today!

Andrea, Aaron, and Jeffrey review July's new North Korean developments. They dive into the developments at Sohae Satellite Launching Grounds, sanctions enforcement, and the repatriation of POW/KIA remains from the Korean War. 

Links of Note:

Treasury's press release of sanctions ordered against the Russian Agrosoyuz Commercial Bank.

Imagery analysis from 38 North of the dismantling of the engine test stand and covered rail transfer station at Sohae. 

Paul Boudreau's Juche Bird cocktail!

Jeffrey's new novel, The 2020 Commission Report on the North Korean Nuclear Attacks Against the United States.

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

Direct download: 104.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:19pm EDT

Ellen Nakashima and Joby Warrick have a bombshell story about North
Korea producing one, possible two, Hwasong-15 ICBMs at its Sanumdong
facility.  Aaron and Jeffrey discuss the role that MIIS and open
source played in corroborating the report.

This episode brought to you by Jeffrey's new novel, The 2020 Commission Report.

 

Links of Note:

Ellen Nakashima and Joby Warrick's article in the Washington Post about ICBM production at Sanum-Dong.

Ankit Panda's Diplomat article on continuing ICBM production in North Korea.

Jeffrey's new book, The 2020 Commission Report on the North Korean Nuclear Attacks Against the United States - A Speculative Novel, can be preordered here!

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

Direct download: 103.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:30pm EDT

KANGSON

We have the (probable) location of North Korea's original enrichment site: Kangson, now called Chollima. This is probably the spot where the DPRK has been enriching uranium since the early 2000's, which has previously not been openly identified! 


Jeffrey, Grace Liu, and Dave Schmerler combed over information dropped by friend-of-the-pod Ankit Panda.

Jeffrey, Aaron, and Scott talk about this old, newly discovered site, the history of North Korean enrichment tracking, and the difficulty in tracking major proliferation concerns.

Links of Note:

Ankit's bombshell article in The Diplomat about Kangson.

Geo4NonPro, The CNS/MIIS crowd-sourced satellite imagery analysis project.

Jeffrey's new novel, The 2020 Commission Report on the North Korean Nuclear Attacks Against the United States.

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

Direct download: 102.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:38pm EDT

A Canadian reviews the last month’s news with two special guests.

Andrea talks to CNS Senior Research Associate Melissa Hanham and FAS Adjunct Fellow Ankit Panda as they go through the trajectory of U.S./DPRK diplomacy after the Singapore Summit, parse through the differences between U.S and DPRK public statements, and developments within the U.S./ROK Alliance.

 <!--more-->

Links of Note

 NBC report on North Korea's additional enrichment sites and increased nuclear activity.

Ankit's article in The Diplomat about the DPRK's additional missile TEL production in 2018.

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

Direct download: 101.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:34pm EDT

Jeffrey spent the past week making Singapore Slings but it didn't help dull the pain.
 
The conversation then turned to the summit and ended with a conversation about the sustainability of summits without substance and what the two sides can do in the future to settle on an actual agenda for talks.
 
Jeffrey and Aaron commiserate over the complete goat rodeo that played out, including the Joint Statement, Trump's wild presser, and KCNA's excellent trolling of John Bolton.
 
 
Links of Note:
 
Full text of the joint statement between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un.
 
The weird movie that the U.S. team showed the DPRK team and the on-site journalists.

Kim Jong Un shaking John Bolton's hand on KCNA.
 
 
Scott wrote an article over at the blog about the "missile engine test stand." Dave Schmerler also wrote a twitter thread on it.
 
Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!
 
 
Direct download: 100.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:10pm EDT

Back in March, Putin said that Russia has been testing a nuclear-powered cruise missile and showed a little bit of video footage. Throughout April and May, stories have come out questioning the success of these tests.

Jeffrey and his team at CNS have been peaking into the test site and trying to figure out what is actually going on.  

Jeffrey and Aaron discuss using satellite images to geolocate the launch site and what that tells about the state of the program.

Links of Note:

The Gertz piece on the possibly failed tests. 

The CNBC piece on the testing regime's successes and failures.

Previous Arms Control Wonk Podcast episode on Putin's new cruise missile and other nuclear weapons. 

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

Direct download: 99.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:42am EDT

This is a full end-to-end OSINT episode, buckle up. 

Using satellite imagery, SAR data, Farsi-language television coverage, one rocket scientist's favorite color, and one very important box, the team at CNS/MIIS tracked down a second solid-propellant rocket production facility in Iran.

We suspect it may be moving towards ICBM research. 

Scott ventures out to California to join Jeffrey and Dave Schmerler in person to talk about Shahrud, the history of the Iranian missile program, and one very eccentric military scientist. 

 

Links of Note:

New York Times coverage of the Shahrud research

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

Direct download: 98.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:51am EDT

A Canadian reviews the last month’s news with a special guest. Andrea talks to Hamish Macdonald from NK News about what went boom at Punggye-ri, recaps the diplomatic rollercoaster ride that was May, and ponders the Max Thunder joint military exercises (during an actual thunderstorm).

 Links of note: 

Will Ripley’s Instagram snaps from his visit to Wonsan and Punggye-ri.

North Korea takes issue with the Max Thunder joint air drills.

Press statement by First Vice Minister Kim Kye Gwan, telling the US he’s not so into Bolton

Text of Trump’s letter to “His Excellency” Kim Jong Un, (maybe) cancelling the planned summit

North Korea keeps doing those pesky ship-to-ship transfers.

North Korean vessels showing up at Chinese coal ports, again….

Our new report on North Korean companies active in the global IT sector.

 

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

Direct download: 97.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:34am EDT

What is going on with the Trump-Kim summit following the recent cancellation of a DPRK-ROK meeting?

Will Trump and Kim meet?

And how does John Bolton fit into all of this?

Today, Aaron and Jeffrey discuss the latest twists and turns in the run-up to the Singapore summit, and raise broader questions about denuclearization and bureaucratic politics in the United States.

 

Links of Note:

John Bolton discussing that the summit will fail.

Dig!

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

Direct download: 96.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:56pm EDT

Kim Jong Un said he is closing the nuclear test site at Punggye-ri. But if outside inspectors and exports aren't allowed in, it could just be a PR stunt with no substantive contribution to "denuclearization."

Jeffrey and Aaron talk about what this means for North Korea, why inspectors and outside experts need to be allowed in, and what the upcoming Trump-Kim summit may lead to. 

Links of Note:

CNS/MIIS research on the possibility that the nuclear test site at Punggye-ri is possibly being dismantled right now. 

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

Direct download: 95.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:57am EDT

A Canadian reviews the last few weeks of North Korea news with a special guest. Andrea chats with Antoine Bondaz from the Foundation for Strategic Research in Paris. They dissect the optics and outcomes of the recent inter-Korean summit, analyse the responses, and look at some of the stories you may have missed amongst the flashbulbs.

Links of Note:

Full text of the Panmunjom declaration, signed by Moon Jae In and Kim Jong Un.

Rodong Sinmun’s reporting on the summit the following day. Articles herehere, and here.

Australia and Canada sending planes to monitor illicit DPRK shipping activity. UK sending ships to monitor the same.  

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

Direct download: 94.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:27am EDT

Bibi showed off Iran’s bomb. And its pretty crappy. The slide show added some titillating details to what the world already knew about Iran’s nuclear weapons program and, in doing so, made the case for why the JCPOA is so important. The real news was not the documents or their provenance, but what they revealed about Iran’s nuclear weapons planning.

They wanted a few bombs in the basement. Literally.

Jeffrey and Aaron talk this week about the Iranian nuclear weapons program, how Bibi added to what we already knew about their program, and why the JCPOA is important to verify that Iran’s bomb program remains confined to dusty files in binders and CDs in a dilapidated warehouse.

Links of Note:

Netanyahu's presentation.

Jeffrey's Twitter thread walking through the presentation, step-by-step.

Joshua Pollack's Defense One article on the presentation.

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

Direct download: 93.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:57pm EDT

A Canadian reviews the last few weeks of North Korea news with a special guest.

Andrea talks to Ramon Pacheco-Pardo from King’s College London about DPRK summit mania. They cover the recent high-level visits to Pyongyang, Beijing and Washington, consider North Korean pledges to refrain from certain nuclear and missile testing, and debate whether this is all a house of cards.

Links of Note:

Ramon’s take on the forthcoming inter-Korean summit, for War on the Rocks.

Yonhap on the Pompeo visit to Pyongyang, one of several ROK outlets creating an echo chamber for the Asahi Shimbun story.

The North Korean statement pledging to suspend ICBM testing and nuclear testing at the “northern” test ground.

Scott’s analysis of the recent North Korean test freeze pledge, for NK News.

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

 

Direct download: 92.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:18pm EDT

Haaretz dropped an incredible article with new details about the 2007 Israeli air strike on the nascent Syrian nuclear reactor at Al Kibar.

So we thought it would be a good opportunity to interrupt Jeffrey's working vacation to talk about Al Kibar, the North Korean nuclear connection, and how our understanding of the event has evolved over the past decade.

Links of Note:

The Haaretz article with all the details on the strike on Al Kibar.

One reader's trip to the Syrian archaeological site near Al Kibar that should not, and we cannot emphasize this enough, ever be tried again.

The 2008 videos detailing the Al Kibar strike

Some ACW blog posts on Al Kibar:

Discussions on the details of the reactor.

Some US IC statements about Al Kibar.

Decisionmaking around the strike.

Al Kibar being overrun during the Civil War.

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

Direct download: 91.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:55am EDT

A Canadian reviews the last month's North Korea news with two special guests, Jeffrey and Aaron. It's a family pod!

Andrea discusses the new UN Panel of Experts report on North Korea's illicit arms dealing, whether the DPRK is helping reconstitute the Syrian chemical weapons program, and some long awaited discussions on Myanmar's acquisition of North Korean ballistic missile systems.

 

Links of Note:

The New Panel of Experts Report!

The rest of the PoE reports, if you would like some light reading.

DPRK Foreign Ministry response to "maximum pressure" statements.

Direct download: 90.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:16am EDT

What is Russia’s nuclear doctrine? Jeffrey talks to Dr. Olga Oliker about Russian nuclear doctrine and developments. Unfortunately, she speaks Russian, which turns out to he really inconvenient for a lot of people's theories. 

Jeffrey and Olga discuss whether escalate to deescalate is a thing and Putin’s awesome new menagerie of terror weapons. 

Dr. Oliker's hosts a podcast, Russian Roulette, with Jeffrey Mankoff over at CSIS. It can be found here, go take a listen!

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

Direct download: 89.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:05pm EDT

The Russian chemical weapons attack in Salisbury is, sadly, not the first assassination to take place on UK soil.

Jeffrey and Aaron spoke about Russia’s use of a Novichok nerve agent, what this act says about a return of Soviet patterns of behavior, and some policy options.

 

Links of Note:

The Stimson Center report, Chemical Weapons Disarmament in Russia: Problems and Prospects.

Direct download: 88.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:44am EDT

President Trump announced that he's going to meet with Kim Jong Un.

He seems to think that Kim Jong Un is giving up his weapons. Kim Jong Un seems to think that Trump is recognizing North Korea as a nuclear power. What could possibly go wrong? 

Jeffrey and Aaron discuss before Sarah Sanders walks this back. 

Direct download: 87.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:04pm EDT

A delegation from South Korea visited Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang.  After a sumptuous lunch and what looked like a little boozy, over-the-top happy Kim Jong Un waved goodbye as the South Korean delegation drove off with promises.

Aaron and Jeffrey talk about the ROK's post-lunch (not launch, for once) statement, the history of DPRK negotiations, and what could go wrong and right with the talks on the Korean Peninsula. 

Links of Note

Statements on the inter-Korean meeting.

Mark Fitzpatrick's article on the Leap Day Deal and how U.S./DPRK parallel statements differed in 2012.

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

 

Direct download: 86.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:25am EDT

Two Canadians review the last month of North Korean developments as they try to ignore Canada's Olympic performance in curling and hockey.

Andrea talks to Matt Korda about Olympic diplomacy, DPRK proliferation networks, maritime deception practices, and the most recent set of sanctions.

 

Links of Note:

The transcript of the 2008 Burmese military delegation visit to Pyongyang.

The Panel of Experts Report covered in Reuters.

An update to Olympic Diplomacy: The ROK Delegation meets with Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang this week.

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

Direct download: 85.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:25pm EDT

Russian president Vladimir Putin presented his annual address yesterday.

He showed off a bunch of new or recent nuclear weapons systems, designed to defeat US missile defenses.

The weirdest idea of all is a nuclear power cruise missile with global range. You read that right. Nuclear powered.

Aaron, Jeffrey, and Scott convene to discuss Russia’s new generation of insane nuclear weapons, ponder how we got here, and wonder what the hell we can do about it.

Links of Note:

Video Links!

The whole speech.

The new laser.

The new intercontinental nuclear-powered cruise missile.

The Sarmat ICBM with global range.

The air-launched missile Kinzhal.

The Avangard/Vanguard HGV.

The Status-6/Kanyon nuclear autonomous underwater vehicle.

The Russian Ministry of Defense has opened up voting on some of the new systems' names... if you wanna vote, vote here.

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

Direct download: 84.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:29pm EDT

We’re back. After a brief hiatus, Jeffrey and Aaron return from their myriad trips.

The show documents Aaron and superproducer Scott’s visit to missile central down at joint-base Anacostia, where the two got an up close and personal viewing of the Qiam/Burkan 2-H and other assorted Iranian made goodies on display.

Jeffrey then filled Aaron in on his trip to the Munich Security Conference and his assorted medical ailments while traveling through out Germany.

Links of Note:

Our two prior episodes on the Iranian materiel display, one focusing on the Qiam/Burkan 2-H and one focusing on the Qasef-1.

Our series of six episodes discussing strategic stability, European security, and the Russian/INF problem. See episode description for links!

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

Sponsored Links:

Our sponsor this episode is ActionKit, a powerful suit of online campaigning tools.

https://actionkit.com/wonk

Direct download: 82.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00pm EDT

A Canadian reviews the last two months' North Korea news with a special guest. Andrea talks to Scott LaFoy for a whirlwind tour of December and January's developments. They cover Kim Jong Un's New Years Address, the Vancouver Foreign Ministers Meeting, and those pesky ship-to-ship transfers the North Koreans are so fond of these days.

 

Links of Note:

Andrea's pre-mortem of the Vancouver Meeting at Arms Control Wonk.

Andrea's discussion of the Olympic exchanges and negotiations over at The Diplomat.

NK News imagery of the nuclear backpacks from the 2013 parade.

Scott and Fyodor Tertitskiy's NK Pro article on the Olympic Negotiations.

Full text of Kim Jong Un's 'op ed' in KCNA/Rodong Sinmun. VOA link, safe for clicking in South Korea!

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

Sponsored Links:

Our sponsor this episode is ActionKit, a powerful suit of online campaigning tools.

https://actionkit.com/wonk

Direct download: 81.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:33am EDT

India launched the Agni-V intermediate-range ballistic missile.

Launch a missile, get a pod.

Aaron is skiing in Vail, so The Diplomat's Ankit Panda joins Jeffrey to discuss India's nuclear and missile programs from rail mobile missiles to the guy who flooded India's only ballistic missile submarine.

Links of Note:

Ankit's Twitter thread on Agni test imagery.

Ankit and Prashanth Parameswaran did an excellent pod over at The Diplomat covering the Arihant and the Agni V.

 

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

Sponsored Links:

Our sponsor this episode is ActionKit, a powerful suit of online campaigning tools.

https://actionkit.com/wonk

Direct download: 80.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:06am EDT

A draft of the Trump Administration's Nuclear Posture Review has leaked -- and its a doozy. 

Aaron and Jeffrey discuss the history of these reviews and recommendations to develop a new sea-launched cruise missile and a variable yield warhead for the Trident D5 submarine launched ballistic missile.

Links of Note:

The Huffpost article that originally leaked the document.

The 2010 Nuclear Posture Review from the Obama administration.

Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!

Sponsored Links:

Our sponsor this episode is ActionKit, a powerful suit of online campaigning tools.

https://actionkit.com/wonk

 

Direct download: 79.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:12am EDT

The Trump Administration is naming names, confirming what Jeffrey has long said — that the new cruise missile Russia is building in violation of the 1987 INF Treaty is the 9M729, which is known in the US as the SSC-8 Screwdriver.

Aaron and Jeffrey discuss Russia’s violation of the INF Treaty, offering a deep dive on the new ground-launched cruise missile and the RS-26 intermediate-range ballistic missile.

Previous Podcast Episodes about this Topic:

An Era Without Arms Control?

The INF, NATO, and the MSC

The Little Green Men and a New Cruise Missile

Russia and the INF: Don't Call it a Circumvention

Is Russia Cheating on the INF Treaty? This was the very first Arms Control Wonk Podcast episode!

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Sponsored Links:

Our sponsor this episode is ActionKit, a powerful suit of online campaigning tools.

https://actionkit.com/wonk

Direct download: 76.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:38am EDT

We usually avoid chasing Trump’s tweets but when the President of the United States says his button is bigger than Kim Jong Un's ... well, we’re not made of stone.

Aaron and Jeffrey talk about whether Trump is bluffing and what the disarray in the White House says about policy process issues.

 

Links of Note:

The tweet in question and a backup in case it disappears. 

 

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

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Sponsored Links:

Our sponsor this episode is ActionKit, a powerful suit of online campaigning tools.

https://actionkit.com/wonk

Direct download: 77.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:41am EDT

Ambassador Nikki Haley gave quite the presentation a few weeks ago. Standing in front of two Qiam/Burkan-2H missile pieces, the US Ambassador the UN called out Iran for its proliferation activities in the Middle East. Two weeks, Aaron and Jeffrey talked at length about the missile.

In this episode, Aaron circles back to the other two objects shown off: An Iranian drone and suicide boat. To talk Iranian drones and regional proliferation, Aaron spoke with Adam Rawnsley, the co-author of Foreign Policy’s SitRep, and a top expert on all things unmanned. 

Links of Note

Adam Rawnsley's Twitter thread on Conflict Armament Research's report on Houthi use of Iranian drones.

RAND report on IAF operations against the Hezbollah Ababils.

2006 Flight Global Report on Hezbollah Ababil.

CAR report on the drone boat.

CAR report on Qasef-1.

UN Panel of Experts report with Iranian Toophans in Yemen.

DVIDS Hub link to the 5568 x 3712 photos of the Iranian drones being used by the Houthis in Yemen.

Direct download: 75.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:14pm EDT

Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera announced that Tokyo wants to acquire a pair of long-range cruise missiles -- the 500 km-range Joint Strike Missile from Norway and the 1000 km range JASSM-ER -- to arm the country's new F-35.  Aaron and Jeffrey discussion the implications for Article 9 of Japan's constitution and stability in the region.

Links of Note:

Japan Times article on the Japanese Ministry of Defense's plans for cruise missile acquisitions.

Sponsored Links:

Our sponsor this episode is ActionKit, a powerful suit of online campaigning tools.

https://actionkit.com/wonk

Direct download: 73.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:29am EDT

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley gave a dog-and-pony show with debris from the recent Houthi missile strikes against Saudi Arabia.

Jeffrey and Aaron go over the debris, explaining why the U.S. thinks the Yemeni Burkan-2H is actually the Iranian Qiam and asking what that means. 

Links of Note:

DVIDS Hub link to the 5568 x 3712 photos of the alleged Iranian missiles being fired into Saudi Arabia by the Houthis in Yemen.

 

Sponsored Links:

Our sponsor this episode is ActionKit, a powerful suit of online campaigning tools.

https://actionkit.com/wonk

Direct download: 74.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:44pm EDT

"A shot was just taken by Iran, in my opinion, at Saudi Arabia. And our system knocked it down," Donald Trump told reporters. "That's how good we are. Nobody makes what we make and now we're selling it all over the world.”

Except it missed. Or maybe never even fired. Jeffrey and Aaron discuss the CNS OSINT teams investigation of the missile attack on the Riyadh airport that appeared in the New York Times.

 

Links of Note:

The New York Times article investigating the missile attack.

 

Direct download: 72.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:03am EDT

A Canadian reviews the month’s North Korea news with a special guest.

For November, Andrea talks to John Hemmings, the Director of the Asia Studies Centre at the Henry Jackson Society. They dig into major stories about North Korean defectors and the Kim Jong Nam assassination, and consider the stunning views from Cathay Pacific flights.

 

Links of Note: 

Defector crosses the border at Panmunjom.

Statement by Rex Tillerson on the Hwasong-15 launch.

Kim Jong Nam carrying VX antidote. 

North Koreans bootlegging in Pakistan. 

Cathay Pacific air crew gets a good view. 

Direct download: 71.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:04am EDT

North Korea tested a new ICBM called the Hwasong-15.

We'll keep these show notes brief. Its frickin’ huge.

Aaron, Jeffrey, and Scott discuss the missile, the launch site, the truck that carried it, and its oh-so-roomy payload.

Links of Note:

Dave Schmerler compiled the KCNA imagery into one big flickr album.

 

Direct download: 70.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:45pm EDT

“Liddle Bob Corker” and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing on the President’s authority to use nuclear weapons. A bipartisan panel testified that “it’s fine.”

But is it?

Aaron and Jeffrey discuss Trump, the bomb, and the President’s War Powers.

 

Links of Note:

C-SPAN video of the entire Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing on Nuclear Weapons Authority.

Direct download: 69.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:23am EDT

The US and South Korea agreed to revise the missile guidelines that have limited South Korea’s missile programs since the 1970s.

Aaron and Jeffrey discuss the origin of those limits, their evolution, and the impact of missile proliferation on the Korean Peninsula.

 

Links of Note:

Arms Control Wonk article about South Korea's Anheung Proving Grounds, where the missile tests occur.

Our last podcast on the Hyunmoo-2C, South Korea's latest publicly displayed missile.

Direct download: 68.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:42am EDT

Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari, commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps, recently stated that Iran has no need to extend the range of its missiles beyond 2,000 km. With debates about Iran's missile program affecting the debate about the Iran nuclear deal, Aaron and Jeffrey take a survey of regional missile proliferation from Egypt to Iran.

Special bonus, Jeffrey tries not to giggle uncontrollably every time Aaron mentions the Hague Code of Conduct, aka the H-COC.

 

Links of Note:

IRGC says that Iran's missiles are capped at 2000km by the Supreme Leader.

Shea Cotton's Iranian Missile Launch Database at NTI.

Sponsored Link:

Douglass Alchemy kindly provided Jeffrey, Aaron, and Scott with a wide variety of quality cocktail bitters.

ACW Podcast listeners can use the promo code ACW to get 20% off any orders. Perfect for keeping you warm while missile-watching this winter.

Direct download: 67.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:34pm EDT

A Canadian reviews the month's North Korea news with a special guest. For October, Andrea talks to Adam Cathcart -- a lecturer at Leeds University and editor of the website Sino-NK

They dig into the events of the 19th Party Congress in China, talk about the dodgy stuff the Egyptians have been buying from Pyongyang, and try to figure out what's in the water (or maple syrup) up North. 

Links of Note:

Adam Cathcart's China Brief article on Chinese PLA troop movements near the border with North Korea.

Joby Warrick's Washington Post article on the Jie Shun.

Andrea Berger and Matt Korda's Canadian International Council article on Canada's Ballistic Missile Defense Debate.

Direct download: 66.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:29am EDT

The New York Times has a splashy interactive editorial, "Trump’s Nuclear Arsenal." It's good, but gets a few things wrong --
things that matter like Mutual Assured Destruction, Robert McNamara's famous thought experiment on sizing US nuclear forces, and how the US targets nuclear weapons. Also, they misuse decimate.
 
Aaron and Jeffrey talk through the problems with US nuclear policy and Jeffrey's proposal to state that the US will not use nuclear weapon against a target if a conventional one will do.
 
Links of Note:
 
 
Jeffrey and Scott Sagan's article, and its shorter, op-ed version in the Washington Post.
 
 Aaron's recently revived podcast, Turkey Wonk.
 
Direct download: 65.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:20pm EDT

President Trump said each of the missile defense interceptors at the
Ground-based Midcourse Defense site in Alaska has a 97% chance of shooting down a North Korean missile and that two would have a 100% chance.

Statistics don't work like that, at least that's not
how it was taught where Jeffrey and Aaron went to school. We discuss
how to think about missile defenses and statistical risk, while Scott
joins us to explain the online calculator he built for just such a
problem.

 

Links of Note:

Mostly Missile Defense's List of Claims about GMD Effectiveness.

The Washington Post's Fact Check on President Trump's 97% claim.

Joshua Pollack's article on the 97% claim on Defense One.

Scott's been fiddling with missile defense calculators and put together a few helpful tools:

The Simple Model (pulled from Wilkening's work), but without radar/sensor probabilities. This calculator is used to estimate the probability of a multilayer missile defense architecture intercepting X number of incoming warheads.

Another Simple Model based calculator, but with a very basic estimation for sensors and tracking probabilities, also based on Wilkening's writings.

Scott's under-construction experimental tool for sticking these probabilities on a map (with examples!).

 

 

 

 

Direct download: 64.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:11am EDT

No, Hilary Clinton did not sell America's uranium to Russia.

Aaron and Jeffrey attempt to patiently discuss the Uranium One purchase of Willow Creek uranium mine, the US firm that bribed Russian officials to win trucking contracts, and why this particular conspiracy theory is so prevalent in American political discourse.

 

Links of Note:

The Washington Post article fact checking the President's claim.

The 2015 New York Times article that set the conspiracy theorizing in motion.

A 2010 article from the Washington Times claiming that the sale of Uranium One would hurt the U.S. (it didn't).

Direct download: 63.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:54pm EDT

Donald Trump announced a new "strategy"  -- loosely defined -- for confronting Iran. Trump also will refuse to certify that Iran is implementing its commitments under the Iran nuclear deal, aka the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), throwing the issue back to Congress and (possibly) starting a second nuclear crisis. 

Jeffrey and Aaron discuss why Congress created the requirement to certify the Iran nuclear deal, why Trump hates it, and what happens now.

Links of Note:
 
NPR full video and transcript of Trump's Iran speech.

Main and addendum text of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
 
Text of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 (INARA).
 
Jeffrey and Aaron can also be seen talking about this issue on Vice News Tonight (Season 2, Episode 4, October 16). 
Direct download: 62.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:04am EDT