Podcast

A nuclear weapons, arms control, disarmament and nonproliferation podcast.
 

Hosted by Jeffrey Lewis & Aaron Stein.
Produced by Scott LaFoy.
 

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JCPO-eh? Iran, the EU, and the US

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 …

 

Nuclear Rationality and the 2020 Commission

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 …

 

South Korean Missile Tracking

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 …

 

KCN-eh? July’s other North Korea Developments

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 …

 

North Korea’s Continuing Missile Production

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: …

 

North Korea’s New Old Enrichment Site: Kangson

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 …

 

KCN-eh? June’s other North Korea Developments

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.

 

Sentosa Goat Rodeo

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 …

 

Russia’s Crashing Cruise Missile

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 …

 

Iranian ICBMs, Shahrud, and an Important Safety Lesson

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 …

 

KCN-eh? May’s other North Korea Developments

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 …

 

The Libya Model and North Korean Nukes

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 …

 

North Korean Nuclear Tunnels

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 …

 

KCN-eh? April’s other North Korea Developments – Part 2

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 …

 

Netanyahu and the Atomic Archive

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 …

 

KCN-eh? April’s other North Korea Developments – Part 1

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 …

 

The Strike on Al Kibar

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 …

 

KCN-eh? March’s Other North Korean Developments

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 …

 

Russian Nuclear Doctrine and Escalation

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, …

 

Novichok: The New Guy

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 …

 

A Trump/Kim Summit

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 …

 

North Korean Missile Lunch

A delegation from South Korea visited Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang.  After a sumptuous lunch and what looked like a little booze, 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 …

 

KCN-eh? February’s Other North Korean Developments

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 …

 

Putin’s Nuke-a-palooza

Russian president Validimir 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 …

 

Missile Materiel and Adventures in Munich

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 …

 

KCN-eh? December and January’s Other North Korean Developments

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. …

 

Agonizing over the Agni

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 …

 

Reviewing the Nuclear Posture Review

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 …

 

Tightening the Screws on the INF

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 …

 

The Donald and The Nuclear VI: Pushin’ My Buttons

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 …

 

Up Close and Personal with Iranian Drones

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 …

 

Japan and JASSM

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. …

 

Up Close and Personal with the Qiam

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 …

 

A Swing and a Miss in Saudi Arabia

“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 …

 

KCN-eh? November’s Other North Korean Developments

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 …

 

North Korea’s Big Frickin’ Missile

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.  

 

The Donald and the Nuclear V: The Senate Strikes Back

“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 President’s War Powers.   Links of Note: C-SPAN video of the entire Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing …

 

Missiles over the Middle East

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 …

 

South Korea’s Missile Arsenal Expands

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 …

 

KCN-eh? September’s Other North Korean Developments

A Canadian reviews the month’s North Korea news with a special guest. For September, Andrea talks to Alison Evans — deputy head of Asia-Pacific country risk at IHS Markit. They revisit UN General Assembly drama, developments in alliance politics, and North Korea’s stunning victory at Disney puns.  

 

Our Source was the New York Times

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 …

 

97% Invincible

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 …

 

Uranium Fever

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 …

 

Decertification Day

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 …

 

ICAN wins the Nobel Peace Prize

ICAN won the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize for its work on “for its work to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons and for its ground-breaking efforts to achieve a treaty-based prohibition of such weapons.” Jeffrey and Aaron discuss the prize, the treaty to ban nuclear weapons, and efforts …

 

Scuttling Der Weinerplan

Donald Trump told the United Nations that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (aka the Iran nuclear deal aka the Vienna Plan aka der Weinerplan) between Iran and the so-called E3/U-3 “Is an embarrassment to the United States, and I don’t think you’ve heard the last of it — believe me.” Aaron and Jeffrey talk …

 

Banks and the Bomb

Proliferators not only need to move goods around the world to support their WMD and missile programs, they need to move money too.   How do they get into the international financial system undetected? Can banks do more to stop them? Who is leading the global charge on countering proliferation finance? Andrea talks to Tom Keatinge, a …

 

Tiny Nukes for Tiny Hands

The Trump Administration is reportedly mulling the development of new “low yield” nuclear weapons in its Nuclear Posture Review. But is this really new? Or is it that we just don’t trust the Trump Administration with sharp objects, let alone the bomb.   Jeffrey and Aaron discuss the recent history of proposals for new nuclear weapons, including …

 

North Korea’s Missile Submarine(s): Part 2

In addition to a new ICBM and thermonuclear weapon, North Korea is also developing new class of solid-fueled missiles.   Joseph Dempsey from the International Institute of Strategic Studies joins Jeffrey in a special three part episode to discuss the Pukguksong-1 submarine launched ballistic missile, the land-based Pukguksong-2 medium range ballistic missile, and Kim Jong Un’s visit to …

 

North Korea’s Missile Submarine(s): Part 3

The final part in our three part series! Episode 1 can be found here. Episode 2 is here. This addendum episode includes discussion on new developments, the DPRK’s ‘Site B’ for SLBMs, and the Golf submarines. In addition to a new ICBM and thermonuclear weapon, North Korea is also developing new class of solid-fueled missiles. …

 

North Korea’s Missile Submarine(s): Part 1

  In addition to a new ICBM and thermonuclear weapon, North Korea is also developing new class of solid-fueled missiles.   Joseph Dempsey from the International Institute of Strategic Studies joins Jeffrey in a special two part episode to discuss the Pukguksong-1 submarine launched ballistic missile, the land-based Pukguksong-2 medium range ballistic missile, and Kim Jong Un’s visit …

 

North Korea Tests an H-bomb

Jeffrey was lounging at the beach with his phone off. You know what the means: NORTH KOREAN NUCLEAR TEST TIME! North Korea released images of Kim Jong Un inspecting what looked like a two-stage thermonuclear weapon and then, before analysts could pretend it was just a pinata, kablooie! North Korea detonated its largest nuclear explosive …

 

An Era Without Arms Control?

The relationship between the United States and Russia is in the toilet.  The FY 2018 National Defense Authorization Act contains a number of provisions that call into question the viability of the INF and New START treaties, as well as the future of the entire bilateral arms control process. Jeffrey and Aaron discuss Russian nuclear …

 

North Korean Sanctions and Shellfish

In all the squinting at shiny missile bits, the bigger picture on North Korea has gotten a bit lost. Jeffrey and Andrea talk about some of the less pointy topics like new sanctions on North Korea, mollusks, and the reaction in Japan and South Korea.    Links of Note U.S. Fact Sheet on Resolution 2371 …

 

The Donald and The Nuclear Goblet of Fire (And Fury)

The fourth part in our The Donald and The Nuclear series. The crazy lunatic with the odd hair style and long-range nuclear weapons is talking about “fire and fury”.  So naturally North Korea’s Kim Jong Un threatened to fire four Hwasong-12 intermediate-range  ballistic missiles into the waters around Guam, saying that Donald Trump was “bereft …

 

Iranian Space Launch and the JCPOA

Amidst all the hoopla surrounding North Korea’s ICBM, Iran launched a Simorgh, a rocket designed to put a satellite into space. Aaron and Jeffrey discuss the Iran’s space launch program, how it relates to the nuclear program. And, of course, the Dudes from the SHIG. Links of Note: Detailed video of the Simorgh and the NTI …

 

Hot Launch Hot Take

The DPRK just launched a looooong range missile. According to podfriend Ankit Panda, it went farther, higher, and farther than the July 4th Hwasong-14 launch (with a data refresher here, courtesy of noted seersucker suit aficionado Shea Cotton) Jeffrey and Aaron knock out a snap episode with very first reactions to a launch that literally happened while we were …

 

Banning the Bomb III: Subsection B

The second half of yesterday’s Banning the Bomb III. Make sure to listen to that one first.    122 countries just adopted the Treaty banning nuclear weapons, in the same week that North Korea tested an ICBM.    Andrea, Gaukhar, and Beatrice Fihn from the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons continue their discussion of the Treaty on …

 

Banning the Bomb III: Subsection A

122 countries just adopted a treaty banning nuclear weapons, in the same week that North Korea tested an ICBM. Andrea, Gaukhar, and Beatrice Fihn from the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons talk about what made the cut for the final treaty, debate some of the implications, and evaluate whether diplomats are most like a …

 

North Korea’s New Missiles

No one has better sources in the U.S. government when it comes to North Korea’s missile program than the Diplomat’s Ankit Panda.  He joins Jeffrey and Scott to discuss the Hwasong-12, Hwasong-14, a very strange North Korean concert, and Ankit shares some never-before-released data on the Hwasong-12 and some KN designations.  This podcast is a …

 

North Korea’s ICBM: Hwasong-14

  Test a missile, get a pod. North Korea tested a missile. The big one. An ICBM. To discuss recent events, Aaron, Jeffrey, and Scott talk about the KN-20/Hwasong-14, how we got here, and what we know about the missile. Links of Note: The pod about the Hwasong-12, the immediate precursor to the Hwasong-14, including …

 

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

  South Korea tested the 800km Hyunmoo-2C ballistic missile … from a barge! New President Moon Jae-in was in attendance, resulting in some geolocation goodies. Aaron and Jeffrey talk about using open source information to track the interesting, but under-studied, South Korean missile program.   Links of Note: A series of various twitter threads from …

 

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