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Arms Control Wonk


The nuclear weapons, arms control, disarmament and nonproliferation podcast. Companion to the popular Arms Control Wonk blog ( Hosted by Jeffrey Lewis & Aaron Stein.

The nuclear weapons, arms control, disarmament and nonproliferation podcast. Companion to the popular Arms Control Wonk blog ( Hosted by Jeffrey Lewis & Aaron Stein.


United States


The nuclear weapons, arms control, disarmament and nonproliferation podcast. Companion to the popular Arms Control Wonk blog ( Hosted by Jeffrey Lewis & Aaron Stein.




The Last Days of the JCPOA

As the President visited various states in the Middle East, Jeffrey and Aaron sat down to eulogize the JCPOA renegotiation attempts as they slowly slide farther off the rails. Iran's programs continue and it looks like the U.S. is preparing to continue into the sanctions and containment realm, as Israel continues its seemingly ineffective hardware sabotage campaign. The North Korea-ification of Iran-US relations continues, unabated. Support us over at!


The Wizards of Armageddon

Jeffrey and Aaron walk through a piece of foundational field canon, The Wizards of Armageddon by Fred Kaplan, discussing its coverage of institutional and personal decisionmaking, picking apart the concepts of deterrence and compellence, and discussing the seemingly crystalized debate on the same core tenets, decades after the initial events. Support us over at!


Waiting for the Boom

After a brief hiatus due to Jeffrey's house catching on a lil' bit of fire, the Arms Control Wonk team is back to take a look at North Korea's triple missile launch and looming possible nuclear test. Jeffrey and Aaron discuss the North Korean nuclear testing schedule, the expectations of precision that open source intelligence has generated, and what it means when half of the attendees at a nuclear conference all simultaneously leave... Support us over at!


American ASAT Controls

The U.S. has unilaterally committed to not conducting destructive anti-satellite missile tests! Jeffrey and Aaron walk through what the U.S. has actually normatively committed to, what this means for potential future attempts at arms control in space, and some of the institutional hurdles the U.S. must overcome for a long-lasting commitment to space-based arms control. Support us over at!


Carrier Killer: China's Anti-Ship Ballistic Missiles and Theater of Operations in the early 21st Century

Gerry Doyle and Blake Herzinger join Jeffrey to talk about their new book: Carrier Killer: China's Anti-Ship Ballistic Missiles and Theater of Operations in the early 21st Century. The group sits down to talk through China's DF-21D and DF-26 missiles. Do they work? What do they do? What can they actually accomplish? How do navies adapt to the new threat environment? The group talks through the realities and the puffed up hype around these systems, and how they actually impact strategy and...


Test Three Missiles...

...get a pod. North Korea has conducted three (and, as I'm typing this, apparently four), ICBM (or ICBM element) tests, with two labelled as "satellite" system tests. Jeffrey and Scott talk through an OSINT Oreo: Good OSINT to identify ICBM tests, BAD OSINT claiming that some agricultural fields were missile support areas, and then more good OSINT in the form of Jeffrey's talented class of missile modelers. Jeffrey also predicts a Hwasong-17 test is coming, and as this episode is being...


The Bunga Bunga Theory of Deterrence

Should we be worried that Russia may intentionally use nuclear weapons in Ukraine? Jeffrey and Aaron discuss the role nuclear weapons, conspiracy theories, and misinformation play within conventional wars and escalation dynamics. Aaron posits the Bunga Bunga Theory of Deterrence, wherein an individual actor's rationality can be gauged by the company they keep. Support us over at!


Deterrence in Ukraine

Russia has invaded Ukraine, and some folks are arguing that Ukraine could've deterred Russia "if it had never given up nuclear weapons." But they never "had" nuclear weapons. Jeffrey and Aaron talk through the control of nuclear weapons in Ukraine during the Cold War, and the "return" of those weapons to Russia after the fall of the Soviet Union. Support us over at!


Nuclear Security for Who?

Jasmine Owens, Lead Organizer and Policy Coordinator at the Physicians for Social Responsibility, joins Jeffrey to discuss social justice and nuclear weapons. Jasmine and Jeffrey attack the tough issues facing culture within the nuclear security field, embedded bias, and the disproportionate impact these weapons have on minority and oppressed communities. Support us over at!


Networked Nonproliferation with Michal Onderco

Dr. Michal Onderco, Associate Professor of International Relations in the Department of Public Administration and Sociology at Erasmus University Rotterdam, joins Jeffrey to talk about his new book, Networked Nonproliferation: Making the NPT Permanent. Dr. Onderco and Jeffrey talk about the history of the NPT extension, interpersonal relationships in diplomacy, and the methods and study of diplomacy in nuclear treaty-making. Support us over at!


Gimme Shelter

After North Korea tested its new MaRV twice, a bunch of weird news stories suddenly started breaking about U.S. responses. Flights were grounded in parts of the West Coast, there was a shelter in place order up at the missile defense site in Alaska, and it seemed like someone may have mistook the North Korean test for an ICBM launch. Jeffrey and Aaron talk about the U.S. early warning and ballistic missile defense system, pressures of decisionmaking, and what happens when missile warnings...


North Korea's MaRV

North Korea tested what appears to be a maneuverable reentry vehicle (MaRV), which could support a tactical nuclear mission and subvert ballistic missile defenses. Jeffrey and Aaron talk through the difference between a MaRV and a hypersonic glide vehicle, discuss the development of the DPRK missile industry, and walk through North Korea's tactical nuclear ambitions. Other Episodes of Interest: Glide or Die: When the DPRK tested what appears to be a hypersonic glide vehicle Iranian...


North Korea's Small SLBM

North Korea seems to be taking its new, small, solid propellant missiles to the sea, after taking them to the show. Perennial friend of the pod and aficionado of all things submarine Joseph Dempsey of the International Institute of Strategic Studies returns to talk to Jeffrey about what it is that the DPRK tested this time, whether it is the same missile that the DPRK showed off at its recent military expo, and what their submarine program is looking like in 2021. Previous Episodes with...


A Fractional Orbital Bombardment System with a Hypersonic Glide Vehicle??

This is a complicated one. According to Demetri Sevastopulo at the Financial Times, China tested something that sounds a whole lot like FOBS with an HGV. Something that orbited the globe and dropped a hypersonic glide vehicle against a target. Jeffrey, Aaron, and Scott try to figure out what actually was tested (HGV-FOBS? An intercontinental glider? A super-lofted ballistic missile??), talk about what it means to be a "fractional orbital bombardment system" versus a regular ballistic...


Glide or Die

Glide or die, baby. The North Koreans, on a real cavalcade of missile debuts reminiscent of 2017, have tested what they claim to be a hypersonic glide vehicle (HGV). Which means they are just checking off their list of goals, leaving a nuclear powered submarine, a MIRV, and a solid propellant ICBM as the main untested-but-announced capabilities.... While it isn't 100% clear that they actually tested an HGV, the team dissects what it might have been, if a DPRK HGV is realistic, and why HGVs...


All Aboard the Missile Train

Put another pot of coffee on because it is launch week again. North Korean launched two missiles off of the back of a train this week, right as the president of South Korea watched their own tests of a submarine launched ballistic missile, stealthy air launched cruise missile, ballistic missile test, supersonic anti ship cruise missile test, large diameter solid motor test, and good lord it is a hard week to keep up. Oh right and North Korea is expanding its uranium enrichment...


Not Lackin' LACMs

The DPRK tested a cruise missile, but this time it was a big one. Like "INF Treaty" big, if that term still meant anything. The DPRK announced that it launched a 1500 km range cruise missile, after months of hints that a strategic nuclear-capable cruise missile was in the works. While it technically does not fall under the United Nations Security Council resolutions sanctioning DPRK ballistic missile and space tests, it is a huge concern, especially since it is probably meant to carry a...


Boiling Fish at Yongbyon

Looks like Yongbyon is running a little hot. The IAEA has announced that it believes the DPRK is conducting a plutonium reprocessing campaign at Yongbyon. Jeffrey and Aaron discuss why the DPRK would want to do this. What could the mystery be? Why would the DPRK reprocess plutonium? For nukes. It's for nukes. Basically like the DPRK has been saying. Support us over at!


It's Always Cloudy in Novaya Zemlya

Jeffrey and his team fear no cloud. Working with Capella Space to acquire cloud-piercing synthetic aperture radar (SAR) data, the MIIS team has been monitoring eternally-cloudy Novaya Zemlya, Russia, for evidence of Burevestnik nuclear-powered cruise missile tests. Evidence pointed to the Burevestnik test site being revived after the previous failures, and the team started utilizing radar returns to obviate the satellite-imagery-frustrating weather that plagues Russia's northern nuclear...


Wasted Opportunities with the JCPOA

Bad news abounds for Iranian and US returns to JCPOA compliance. Aaron and Jeffrey talk through the frustration around breakout time requirements, the timidity of the Biden administration, and the shortfalls of the wait-and-see approach. Links of Note: The Economist article on OSINT, including Arms Control Wonk and the Slack channel, which is filled with only the most brilliant and beautiful of people, whom all listeners should aspire to...