Arms Control Wonk ArmsControlWonk

 

Greetings fellow Wonks. My name is Melissa Hanham, and I’m the new ACW contributor on the block. I work for Jeffrey and a lot of my day-to-day involves applying technology to policy problems. If its got a map, a model, big data, little data, software, hardware, or satellite imagery, I’m probably into it. And, excited about it. And, I want to tell you about it.

I taught myself, often the hard way, often in the field, and so I’m hoping to use this space to write explainers, how-tos, and do a bit of myth busting. Oh, and geo quizes! That’s right, Wonks, we’re into participatory learning here. So take your feet off the sofa and roll up your sleeves.

A few weeks ago Jeffrey and I taught an AWESOME workshop on geospatial analysis at UC Berkeley. Turns out, I’m a bit of a sadist, and I tortured some grad students… and some undergrads… and some members of the national labs :/

Most of them figured out at least one of these in the 30 minutes allotted. See if you can too!

Rules:

  • Post the coordinates in the comments
  • EXPLAIN how you got your answer
  • Don’t peek!

Where were these photos taken? (Double click and double click again, to see them bigger)

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As fate would have it, I will be in DC for a talk about my new IISS Adelphi book, Paper Tigers: China’s Nuclear Posture. (IISS is being unbelievably civil about the fact that I am doing the talk at another institution.)

The talk is at 11:30 am-1:00 pm on Friday, February 27, 2015 , at the George Washington University (1957 E Street NW) . RSVP here.

I need to hurry back ASAP for family reasons, but will be around on Friday night.  Since the talk falls painfully close to my 40th birthday, I’ll be heading with some friends to the Big Hunt for a few beers after work (5-ish until late-ish) in a desperate effort to, however briefly, recapture my long lost youth.  If you’d like to see that trainwreck, I’d be delighted to let you buy me a beer and laugh at me as a fall down.

 
 

What follows is a post I originally wrote for my personal blog, Turkey Wonk. The article touches on a lot of the issues Jeffrey and I have talked about in recent podcasts, so I thought I would share it with the Arms Conrol Wonk crowd. Enjoy.

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I am confused. This morning, Anadolu Agency reported that Turkey’s Defense Minster, Ismet Yilmaz, wrote in response to a parliamentary question about Turkey’s missile defense tender that Turkey’s future system will “not be integrated” with NATO’s missile defense system.

Here is the tweet:

Reuters picked up on the story and wrote the following:

Turkey will go ahead with plans to order a $3.4-billion missile defense system from China, Defense Minister Ismet Yilmaz said, despite U.S. and NATO concerns over security and compatibility of weaponry. Yilmaz said in a written response to a parliamentary question published on Thursday that Ankara will use the long-range system without integrating it with NATO’s system.  Turkey originally awarded the tender to China Precision Machinery Import and Export Corp in 2013, prompting U.S. and NATO officials to say the deal could raise questions over security. Turkey later said it was in talks with France on the issue, but Yilmaz said no new bids had been received. ”The project will be financed with foreign financing. Work on assessing the bids has been completed and no new official bid was received,” the minister said.

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One paradox of nuclear deterrence has always been that whatever utility the Bomb provides is lost once the nuclear threshold is crossed, however large or small the boom. There is no bigger blunderbuss than a nuclear weapon atop a long-range missile. Smaller-yield message-senders have been created in the form of tactical nuclear weapons, but any advantageous battlefield use of nuclear weapons against a similarly armed foe requires heroic assumptions. Basic nuclear deterrence is measured by non-use. The derived benefits of “strengthening” deterrence by means of more discriminating or improved methods of delivery have been completely conjectural.

How much of a deterrent is a weapon that hasn’t been used on battlefields for almost 70 years? Deterrence strategists object to this formulation. They argue that, even without mushroom clouds, the Bomb has leveraged favorable outcomes in diplomacy, crises and wars.  These arguments do not withstand close scrutiny. The Bomb has indeed energized diplomacy to defuse crises – after exacerbating them. It has also reinforced the common sense of major powers not to fight full-blown conventional wars. Beyond reinforcing caution, the Bomb’s suasion is limited. It can’t override bad national decisions, local circumstances, and differentials in commitment to achieve preferred outcomes. The Bomb hasn’t proven its worth when nuclear-armed states square off against non-nuclear-weapon states, as is evident by a painfully long track record of conventional wars, limited wars, proxy wars and unconventional wars.

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Pornstar Reporting Fake As Her Orgasms

In 1958, the US Air Force lost a nuclear weapon off the coast of Georgia, near Tybee Island.  The weapon is thought to be irretrievably lost, despite a brief glimmer of hope in 2004.

So, I was pretty surprised to see a story claiming that a Canadian couple found it on a diving holiday.  But it’s not true.

Barbara Johnson of the World News Daily has a completely fictitious story about a Canadian couple finding the Tybee bomb on a diving holiday. Let’s be super clear: This story is complete and total bullshit.  Although, you know, you might have guessed that from the author’s bio: ”A former pornstar, she has rapidly reached the summit in her new profession thanks to her good looks and ‘social” skills.’” Her recent body of work includes stories like “California Man Gets 25-Pound Penile Implant to Become Pornstar.”

I’ve archived the story so you don’t have to give Ms. Johnson your clicks or worry about her deleting the post or its tell-tale pictures. It’s easy to establish the story is fake, using a reverse image search.

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The Terse End to Cooperative Threat Reduction

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.

Links:

 
 

DPRK Missile, Rocket Launches

 

I’ve been trying to keep track of the really impressive rate of missile testing in the DPRK over the past year plus now — not least because I was the only weirdo for a long time arguing that North Korea was testing an extended-range Toksa. (You have no idea how much crap I got for this blog post  and column that in retrospect were correct, FYI. )

The pace of testing has been really high.  After a US official talked about “turning up the volume” on the message to Pyongyang to return to Six Party Talks, I suggested making sure it was loud enough for Kim to hear over all the rocket and artillery fire.

I ended up geolocating the Wonsan test site, which helped sort out some of the rocket types. I’ve noticed that Kim Jong Un has started appearing with a green backdrop that makes “over the shoulder” geolocation a bit more difficult. Perhaps a coincidence.

Anyway, below is my best guess at a running list of tests since the beginning of 2014. It’s not perfect, but I’d love to crowd-review it in the comments.  And, in case you like really, really loud music, I’ve stuck a little earcandy at the end for you.

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Modernization Mountain: Ash Carter and the Aging Triad

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:

Reading recommendations:

 
 

India’s Bilateral Obligations

On Monday, February 9 and Wednesday, February 11, the Australian parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT) will take up Australia’s nuclear cooperation agreement with India. According to a National Interest Statement from the Australian government, the agreement will enter into force after the JSCOT hearing and after parliament finds that the agreement meets Australia’s legal requirements for EIF.

Before lawmakers sign off on the agreement, however, it is possible that on a few points the text will have to be re-negotiated with India and amended.

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When Open Source Goes Wrong

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.

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