Mon, 14 December 2015
Russian cruise missiles are in the news lately, from allegations from strikes in Syria to ongoing allegations that Russia is violating the 1987 Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. Why are the Russians so nutty for cruise missiles? Jeffrey talks to Tom Moore, a former professional staff member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, to discuss Russia new air, sea and ground-launch cruise missiles.
Direct download: ACW_Russian_Cruise_Missiles_14_Dec_15.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 7:11pm EDT
Thu, 3 December 2015
Red Mercury. It does not exist and anyone promising you riches for it is a conman. Following CJ Chivers massive story in the New York Times magazine about the red mercury hoax, inlcuding efforts by groups like ISIS to obtain what they think is an ultra-secret nuclear material, Jeffrey talks to Michael Moore about the awful humanitarian impact of the widespread belief in Subsaharan Africa that landmines are a source of Red Mercury, and how he started a website, The Campaign Against Red Mercury, to get the word out.
C.J. Chivers, “The Doomsday Scam” New York Times Magazine, November 19, 2015.
Direct download: ACW_3_Dec_15_Red_Mercury.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 7:48pm EDT
Tue, 13 October 2015
The IAEA has completed its managed access to Iran’s Parchin site, which reportedly included the taking of samples and images. The process by which the samples were taken and questions about how the IAEA would authenticate the samples has led to a recurring debate about whether Iran is “inspecting itself.’ Jeffrey is joined by Cheryl Rofer, a retired chemist from Los Alamos National Laboratory and founder of Nuclear Diner, a blog about nuclear policy stuff.
Direct download: ACW_2_Oct_15.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 8:35pm EDT
Mon, 10 August 2015
In this week’s podcast, Jeffrey speaks to Aaron live from Hiroshima. Seventy years after the first use of nuclear weapons, Aaron and Jeffrey discuss the decision to use the bomb, the bureaucracy underpinning American nuclear decision-making, and the role of nuclear weapons in the twenty-first century.
Direct download: ACW_Hiroshima_10_Aug_15.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 11:27pm EDT
Fri, 24 July 2015
Sanctions relief is a super important part of the Iran deal. It can also be kind of boring. We know boring. We study arms control verification, for pete’s sake.
But it’s still super important. Jeffrey and Aaron are joined by Sam Cutler, policy advisor at Ferrari & Associates, P.C., in a special joint Arms Control Wonk and Sanction Law podcast. You might even say it’s s Joint Comprehensive Podcast. Special bonus: Jeffrey and Aaron help Sam develop some sanction law related pickup lines.
Wed, 15 July 2015
After months of negotiations, the EU3+3 and Iran have signed a nuclear agreement. Jeffrey was so excited he got up at 3:30 in the morning California time to get a jump on reading the 159 page document. Meanwhile, Europe based Aaron read it over coffee at a cafe outside. All in all, the JCPOA looks a lot like the US fact sheet after Lausanne - and that is a good thing!
In today’s episode, Aaron and Jeffrey talk about the merits of the deal, why we should have cared more about Cyprus, and Iran’s Fordow compromise. The discussions also touches on the missile issue, as well Russia’s cornering of the Iranian conventional weapons market. On it merits, the agreement is good for nonproliferation, but will do little to help solve the region’s security problems. But based on the deal’s original intent - sanctions relief for greater access to Iranian nuclear sites - the agreement achieves what it set out to do.
Direct download: ACW_15_Jul_15.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 4:17pm EDT
Sun, 5 July 2015
After a four week absence, Aaron returns to the show to discuss the current state of the Middle East and related nonproliferation challenges/concerns. The wide ranging conversation touches on the prevailing stability-instability paradox, the Saudi Air War in Yemen, Scud hunting difficulties, the proliferation of ballistic missiles in the Gulf, and why the Saudis can probably build a Bomb - but won’t because most states don’t choose build nuclear weapons.
It also wades into the mess in Syria and sorts through the concerns about the Islamic State’s overrunning of Syrian nuclear sites, and whether or not Bashar al Assad stashed fuel rods in Hezbollahstan
Direct download: ACW_3_Jul_15_Final.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 2:11pm EDT
Wed, 17 June 2015
In May, North Korea released pictures of the Kim Jong Un watching the launch of what appears to be a submarine-launched ballistic missile. Jeffrey sits down with Melissa Hanham and Dave Schmerler to discuss open source and the DPRK’s SLBM program.
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Direct download: ACW_15_Jun_15_CNS_show.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 8:33pm EDT
Sat, 6 June 2015
The 2015 Review Conference of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, known among wonks as the REVCON, collapsed in acrimony. If that sounds familiar, that’s because it is – last week we talked with Andrea Berger about the debate in New York over disarmament and a long-planned conference on Weapons of Mass Destruction-free Zone in the Middle East. Joining Aaron and Jeffrey for Part 2 of NPT REVCON Follies is Jeffrey’s colleague at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, Gaukhar Mukhatzhanova.
Gaukhar is the Director of International Organizations & Nonproliferation Program. She attended the REVCON for all four weeks and wrote two posts for the Arms Control Wonk blog (one and two) from the REVCON.
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Direct download: ACW_6_Jun_15.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 4:32pm EDT
Fri, 29 May 2015
The 2015 Review Conference of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, known among wonks as the REVCON, collapsed in acrimony. After weeks of debate over disarmament between the nuclear haves and have nots, the parties failed to agree to a consensus state after Egypt and the United States deadlocked over the details of a long-planned conference on Weapons of Mass Destruction-free zone in the Middle East.
Joining Aaron and Jeffrey to talk about the REVCON is Andrea Berger, the Deputy Director of the Proliferation and Nuclear Policy programme at RUSI.
Gangs of New York: The 2015 NPT Revcon by Andrea Berger
Direct download: ACW_28_May_15.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 7:50pm EDT
Tue, 19 May 2015
The Pentagon’s annual report on China’s military power (PDF) describes for the first time, China’s CSS-4 mod 3 missile equipped with multiple independently-targetable re-entry vehicles. MIRVs! Hans Kristensen noticed the passage and, over the weekend, David Sanger and Bill Broad published a nearly 1000 word piece in the New York Times that includes quotes by several experts including Jeffrey.
Aaron and Jeffrey discuss what China is doing, whether it heralds a change in Chinese nuclear posture and what the US should do in response. Jeffrey also gets in plugs for his two books on China’s nuclear weapons programs, Minimum Means of Reprisal (2006) and Paper Tigers (2014).
Direct download: ACW_19_May_15.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 1:36pm EDT
Wed, 6 May 2015
Iran has been dominating the news, but the North Koreans have been busy too. Whether it is missile testing, nuclear activities at Yongbyon or new space launch facilities, there is a lot to look at. We use open source tools from satellite photographs to computer models for keeping up with the Kims.
Jeffrey and Aaron discuss North Korea’s new general satellite control center, changes at the Soha launch site, North Korea’s missile testing and changes at the Yongbyon nuclear complex.
“Kim Jong Un Visits Newly-built General Satellite Control Centre,” Rodong Sinmun, May 5, 2015.
Nick Hansen, “North Korea’s Sohae Satellite Launching Station: Major Upgrade Program Completed; Facility Operational Again,” 38 North, October 1, 2014.
David Albright and Serena Kelleher-Vergantini, “Yongbyon: A Better Insight into the Status of the 5MWe Reactor,” ISIS, April 29, 2015 (PDF).
Jeffrey Lewis, “DPRK Missile, Rocket Launches,” ArmsControlWonk.com, February 10, 2015.
Jeffrey Lewis, “Don’t Know Where Waldo Went, But Kim Jong Un Was in Wonsan: Geolocating North Korea’s June 26 and August 14 Missile Launches,” 38North, November 3, 2014.
Jeffrey Lewis, “North Korea’s Nuclear Weapons: The Great Miniaturization Debate,” 38North, February 5 2015.
Greg Scarlatoiu and Joseph Bermudez Jr. “Unusual Activity at the Kanggon Military Training Area in North Korea: Evidence of Execution by Anti-aircraft Machine Guns?” HRNK Insider, April 29, 2015 (PDF).
Direct download: ACW_5_May_15.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 1:25pm EDT
Wed, 29 April 2015
A bill to have both Houses of Congress vote on any deal between Iran and the E3/EU+3 to limit Tehran’s nuclear program is winding its way through the United States Senate. Some people are worried that the measure known as Corker-Cardin – or even just the freakshow that is debate within the self-proclaimed world’s greatest deliberative body – will kill off negotiations. Aaron and Jeffrey discuss the substance and politics of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015.
Direct download: ACW_28_Apr_15.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 8:30am EDT
Thu, 9 April 2015
The United Kingdom is having an election in May. Inexplicably, the issue of whether London can afford to replace its fleet of nuclear-armed ballistic missile submarines is shaping up to be a major issue, especially if there is a hung parliament. Actually, the debate is getting downright nasty. The Tory defense secretary has already warned the Labour’s Ed Milliband would “barter away our nuclear deterrent in a backroom deal with the SNP,” adding that Milliband “stabbed his own brother in the back to become Labour leader. Now he is willing to stab the United Kingdom in the back to become prime minister.”
Jeffrey and Aaron are joined by Toby Fenwick (@Tobbes73), a Middlebury College alum who has written a monograph entitled Retiring Trident: An Alternative Proposal for UK Nuclear Deterrence. We were also joined, briefly, by Toby’s neighbor. That was weird. But very polite.
Toby Fenwick, Retiring Trident: An Alternative Proposal for UK Nuclear Deterrence, CentreForum, 2015. (PDF)
Direct download: ACW_9_Apr_15.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 3:33pm EDT
Tue, 7 April 2015
We have a deal! Or, at least, a “framework” agreement between Iran and the E3/EU+3. Whether the negotiators can hammer out the details by June 30, especially on the timing of sanctions relief, remains to be seen but the terms of the deal look pretty strong.
Aaron and Jeffrey run through what we know, what we think and what we wonder about the Iran nuclear deal. Then Max Fisher from Vox joins to talk about what its like to cover the Iran issue.
Follow the hosts & guest on Twitter:
Direct download: ACW7_Apr_15_Fisher.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 10:39am EDT
Sun, 29 March 2015
The circus continues! In Obama’s America, the truth is revealed! The US helped with Israel’s H-Bomb. But wait, there’s more! To punish Bibi Netanyahu, our Muslim Brotherhood lovin’ president released a declassified a report detailing said cooperation with Israel on nuclear weapon, thus indirectly confirming for the first time Israel’s nuclear program. Scandal, right?
Not really. It turns out that the prestigious news organizations that have reported on this “news" - Iran’s Press TV, Russia Today, The Nation, Anti-War.com, and the Weekly Standard - failed to read the never classified document. The study is about missile defense; the Strategic Defense Initiative to be more specific. What does this have to do with nuclear weapons? Edward Teller’s Project Excalibur, or a nuclear pumped X-Ray Laser to shoot down Soviet ICBMs in flight. It goes boom!
To find out more about this story, tune in to the latest podcast.
Direct download: Israels_H-Bomb.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 4:32pm EDT
Thu, 19 March 2015
With negotiations between Iran and the E3/EU+3 coming down to the wire, Aaron and Jeffrey talk about the circus surrounding the talks including the false allegations about secret underground centrifuge plants and nastygrams from members of Congress. Jeffrey has a newborn and a head-cold, but called in anyway. Why? It’s another emergency podcast!
Jeffrey Lewis, “Why a ‘Bad’ Deal With Iran Is Better Than No Deal at All,” Foreign Policy, March 11, 2015
Jeffrey Lewis, “That Secret Iranian ‘Nuclear Facility’ You Just Found? Not So Much,” Foreign Policy, March 3, 2015
Direct download: Iran_Talks_Have_Become_a_Coughing_Goat_Rodeo.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 9:02am EDT
Sun, 8 March 2015
Russia’s last early warning satellite is dead. It is no more, has ceased to be, is bereft of life, it rests in peace. This is an ex-early warning bird. So should we be worried? Jeffrey and Aaron talk to David Hoffman, author of the magisterial The Dead Hand: The Untold Story of the Cold War Arms Race and Its Dangerous Legacy.
David Hoffman, The Dead Hand: The Untold Story of the Cold War Arms Race and Its Dangerous Legacy (Anchor, 2009).
“Russian Strategic Nuclear Forces,” Pavel Podvig, editor (MIT Press, 2004).
Valery E. Yarynich, “C3: Nuclear Command, Control, Cooperation.” (Center for Defense Information, 2003).
Pavel Podvig, “Russia lost all its early-warning satellites,” Russianforces.org February 11, 2015.
Anton Valagin, “Guaranteed wages: how the Russian system ‘Perimeter’,” January 22, 2014. Rossiya Gazeta.
Michael Tymoshenko, “Retaliatory Nuclear Strike Will Be Mounted Under Any Circumstances,” Red Star, February 19, 2015.
“Previously Classified Interviews with Former Soviet Officials Reveal U.S. Strategic Intelligence Failure Over Decades, 1995 Contractor Study Finds that U.S. Analysts Exaggerated Soviet Aggressiveness and Understated Moscow’s Fears of a U.S. First Strike,” William Burr and Svetlana Savranskaya, editors, National Security Archive, September 11, 2009.
Direct download: ACW8_Mar_15.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 12:48pm EDT
Tue, 17 February 2015
Its cold in Moscow. On a chilly day in a hotel overlooking Red Square, Boston Globe reported “the Russians informed the Americans that they were refusing any more US help protecting their largest stockpiles of weapons-grade uranium and plutonium from being stolen or sold on the black market.” How bad is it? Well, things are bad after Russia circumvented Ukraine’s state sovereignty. Today Jeffrey and Aaron discuss the cancellation of US-Russian cooperation programs. To lighten the mood, Jeffrey and Aaron call Dr. Bethany Goldblum, the Founder and Director of the Nuclear Policy Working Group at UC Berkeley, to talk about her efforts to train the next generation of nuclear security experts.
Direct download: ACW_17_Feb_15.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 8:29am EDT
Tue, 10 February 2015
After a series of scandals, incoming Secretary of Defense Ash Carter has some tough choices to make about US nuclear weapons and the future of the so-called “triad” of nuclear delivery system.
Jeffrey and Aaron discuss Carter’s confirmation hearing, Jeffrey’s article in Foreign Policy (The Nuclear Trials of Ashton Carter, Foreign Policy, February 5, 2015), and Janne Nolan’s account of Carter’s role in the Clinton Administration’s 1994 Nuclear Posture Review (see below).
Jeffrey also interviewed Geoff Brumfiel, a science correspondent at National Public Radio, about his reporting on the future of the US ICBM force. Geoff visited the 90th missile wing at F.E. Warren Air Force Base and reported a three-part series for All Things Considered:
Geoff also wrote a pair of very funny blog posts:
After outgoing Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel received a pair of reviews of the nuclear enterprise, Geoff revisited his reporting for All Things Considered:
Direct download: ACW_9Feb15.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 4:36am EDT
Mon, 2 February 2015
We love open source. We talk about it all of the time. But it went wrong - like really wrong - in two different instances in recent weeks. Today, Aaron and Jeffrey talk about the dark side of open source and the need for analysts and journalists to be rigorous in how they approach open source work.
Direct download: ACW_3_Feb_15.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 7:59pm EDT
Sun, 25 January 2015
What’s up with Taiwan’s cruise missile program? What in the world compelled the Taiwanese government to deploy the HF-2E in poorly disguised civilian still trucks? And how cool is it that Taiwan displayed the HF-2E’s engine?
To get to the bottom of Taiwan’s cruise missile program, Aaron and Jeffrey speak with Dennis Gormley, the author of Missile Contagion and A Low Visibility Force Multiplier, about the proliferation of cruise missiles, the lack of an effective cruise missile defense, and Taiwan’s efforts to date.
Direct download: ACW_24_Jan_15.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 11:34am EDT
Fri, 9 January 2015
We love Serial. But what does it have to with arms control, nonproliferation, and disarmament - nothing, really. So why talk about it? Geospatial analysis, of course.
Today, Jeffrey and Aaron speak with Susan Simpson, an associate at the Volkov Law Group (and an expert in national security law), about geospatial analysis and how it relates to the Serial podcast.
Direct download: ACW_9_Jan_15.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 10:34pm EDT