Aaron SteinOpen Source and Arms Control

How has open source impacted arms control and nonproliferation research? How has work done by the likes of Eliot Higgins impacted our understanding of the conflict in Syria? How have other scholars used open source to enhance their research?

Today, Jeffrey and Aaron discuss open source, their own work with satellite imagery, and how that has helped advance their own research interests in Asia, Turkey, and the Middle East.

Jeffrey and Aaron discussed a number of articles during the podcast:

Aaron Stein, “Locating the Turkish Convoy: Analyzing the ISIS Youtube Video,” Turkey Wonk, April 25, 2014.

Aaron Stein, “Creating a Timeline: The Turkish Convoy to the Suleyman Shah Tomb,” Turkey Wonk, May 5, 2014.

Aaron Stein, “The AKP’s Election Strategy: Controlling the Corruption Narrative,” Turkey Wonk, February 27, 2014.

Jeffrey Lewis, Melissa Hanham, and Amber Lee, “That Ain’t My Truck: Where North Korea Assembled Its Chinese Transporter-Erector-Launchers,” 38 North, February 3, 2014.

Wilton Park, WMD verification: global capacity challenges (WP1256), June 9th-11th, 2014.

Catherine Dill and Jeffrey Lewis, “Suspect Defense Facility in Myanmar,” James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, May 9, 2014.

Jeffrey Lewis, “Keep us in the Loop,” Foreign Policy, September 5, 2013.

As always, you can subscribe to the (now better sounding) Arms Control Wonk Podcast on iTunes.


  1. nukeman (History)

    I have been compiling and writing about foreign open source scientific and engineering literature in dual-use areas for over twenty fives years. My bibliographies are used around the world and I have found that some of reports are even listed as Wikipedia primary references. My 1995 report on second tier nuclear nations research in the area of laser isotope separation helped with the investigation into South Korea’s LIS program. I have also reported on Pakistan’s using LIS technology to enrich uranium and am doing research on both Syria and Egypt’s research in this area. And there is lots more to come including research on multipoint initiation systems from Russia and other countries, air-launched satellite launch vehicles, etc. There is so much to write about and I am my whole research, writing and editing staff.

  2. Mark Gubrud (History)

    And here I thought arms control and nonproliferation research was always open source, unless it was government and military analysts, contractors and officials, working behind closed doors.

  3. Elephant4ArmsCtrl (History)

    Why didn’t the Turkish convoy just turn around? As Major Robert Rodgers put it in 1759 in Standing Order 11 to Rodgers’ Rangers, “Don’t ever march home the same way. Take a different route so you won’t be ambushed.” These standing orders appear on the first page of the Army’s Ranger Handbook.

  4. Gregory Matteson (History)

    It strikes me, from my readings in the history of modern intelligence agency, that what is new is not “open source”, but rather that the internet has made open sources widely, nearly universally available. Soon after the development of printing as we know it, broadsides and then newspapers appeared, and intelligence gatherers, whether considered spies or not, were embedded in target communities. The difference now is that you don’t have to be embedded.

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