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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.


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.




Russian Nuclear Doctrine in the Financial Times 2: A Conversation with William Alberque

William Alberque joins Jeffrey for a friendly and deep debate about the Russian Navy nuclear documents leaked to FT, covered in our previous episode. This is a fascinating discussion not only on the documents themselves, but what they imply for Russia's view of its own territorial integrity, what it needs to convince its soldiers to go to bat for, and the eternal issues of "self-deterrence". Support us over at!


Russian Nuclear Doctrine in the Financial Times

Max Seddon and Chris Cook with the Financial Times have written an excellent piece on leaked Russian Naval documents that FT saw, focused on thresholds for Russian nuclear use, especially in a war scenario with China. Jeffrey and Aaron go through what the documents reveal and debate if they're generally consistant with what is understood about Russian nuclear doctrine or, as FT states, indicate that the threshold is lower than previous understood. Support us over at!


Jeffrey Visits the Test Site

Road trip to Vegas. As part of an NGO transparency visit, NNSA opened up the Nevada Test Site to a group of international nuclear weapons experts, including one Dr. Jeffrey Lewis. Jeffrey goes through what he saw: P Tunnel, The BEEF, and the crown jewel, U1a. This was an NNSA exercise in transparency, aimed at showing the community and world that the U.S. stockpile stewardship and treaty verification exercises are separate from nuclear explosive tests. It was also, and we cannot underline this enough, extremely cool. Support us over at!


Russia Buys North Korean Missiles

Shoigu went shopping. Russia is buying KN-23 and KN-25 missiles from North Korea and launching them in support of its invasion of Ukraine. Imagery from on the ground clearly shows North Korean style solid-propellant missiles. Jeffrey and Aaron talk about what this means for global ballistic missile proliferation, possible South Korean responses, and the continued rise of North Korea as a ballistic missile exporter. Support us over at!


North Korea's New Satellite

North Korea finally got a reconnaissance satellite into orbit, after several failed prior attempts! While it is a little rough around the edges, every program has to start somewhere. Jeffrey and Aaron talk through the implications of the DPRK's reconnaissance satellite, the relationship of the DPRK missile and space programs, and the importance of high fashion for the spacelaunching elites. Support us over at!


The Reason We're all Still Here

Take a listen to the latest season of Jeffrey Lewis's podcast, The Reason We're All Still Here Far too often, governments behave like toddlers. They’re fickle. They don’t like to share. And good luck getting them to pay attention to any problem that isn’t directly in front of them. They like to push each other to the brink, and often do. But when they don’t, it’s usually because other people enter the proverbial room. Private citizens who step up and play peacemaker when their governments won’t or can’t. People who strive for collaboration and understanding, and sometimes end up finding it in unlikely places. Those people and the work they do, they’re the reason we’re all still here. This season, we’ll hear from scientists, analysts, and idealists who have gone to crazy lengths just for a shot at making peace and building understanding From smoke-filled rooms in North Korea to secret labs in the Soviet Union… to the lawless seas, and even to the depths of outer space (or, at least, the conference rooms where they talk about the depths of outer space). This podcast tells the stories about the people holding us back from the brink. Hosted by ​​Dr. Jeffrey Lewis, a professor and scholar at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies on the Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies faculty. Previously, he served as Director of the Nuclear Strategy and Nonproliferation Initiative at the New America Foundation and Executive Director of the Managing the Atom Project at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University. He is the founder of, a leading resource on disarmament, arms control and nonproliferation issues. Produced by Gilded Audio and the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies


Shenanigans in Novaya Zemlya

Looks like everyone is preparing for a party. Between Russia's potential un-signing of a nuclear test treaty, threats to test "if the United States does," and refurbishments at Novaya Zemlya, things aren't looking great for the longevity of nuclear test ban norms. China and the U.S. have been modernizing too, though the U.S. has offered to allow monitors on-site to verify U.S. lack of testing. Jeffrey and Aaron sit down to talk about the recent developments in Russia, and the likelyhood that there will be a return to explosive nuclear testing in the future. The Era Without Arms Control continues, and threatens to deepen. Support us over at!


Kim Jong Un's Excellent Adventure

Sam Lair joins the podcast to talk about Kim Jong Un's recent whirlwind tour of the North Korean Defense Industrial Base with Jeffrey and Scott. If you're into missiles, geolocation, and machine tools (and, if you listen to this podcast, you probably are), you're going to want to tune in. Sam and Jeffrey have been mapping out the DPRK DIB, including plant managers, machine tool lineages, production lines, and evolutions over time. Kim's visit to these plants, and the accompanying KCNA imagery storm, unlocked a trove of new information about where nuclear delivery systems are produced and maintained, and updated our ideas for how big the arsenal may be. Support us over at!



Jeffrey is joined by the illustrious Kelsey Atherton to discuss Christopher Nolan's film Oppenheimer, as well as the history and legacy of the titular man himself. Kelsey and Jeffrey dive into the choice to focus on Oppenheimer's own security legacy and bypass the direct and indirect horrors affected upon the Congolese miners, New Mexicans, and Japanese civilians, as well as the intentional rendering of power politics and personal animus within the U.S. security apparatus. Kelsey penned a companion piece over at the Arms Control Wonk Blog, talking about the wider related experience of watching Barbie and Oppenheimer in the same day. Support us over at!


Hiroshima 2023

Jeffrey is back from Hiroshima, where he participated in a Track 2 nuclear dialogue. The outlook for near-term arms control is still grim. Jeffrey and Aaron unpack the G7 statements on disarmament that the Japanese representatives wanted to re-affirm, the tacit condemnation of Russian and Chinese contained within, and the global theater around narrative control of arms control. Russian, US, and third party interpretations of CTBT and disarmament discussions create significant friction, but the discussion is well moderated by the traditional 5:00 happy hour. Support us over at!


What the F*** Do They Think the Russians are Going to Shoot at Them?!

Germany has a gap that needs to be filled in the face of Russian threats. But this time it isn't Fulda, it is....the exoatmospheric layer of ballistic missile defenses? Jeffrey and Aaron try to understand Germany's decision to buy the very fancy Israeli/American Arrow-3 exoatmospheric BMD system, in absense of a specific Russian missile system and despite two Aegis Ashore sites coming online in Europe. Support us over at!


Failure to Launch

Jeffrey is back from Japan and North Korea's satellite-turned-submarine is back from the bottom of the ocean! North Korea's failed Chollima-1 space launcher and its payload, the Malligyong-1, failed to reach space on May 30. Jeffrey and Aaron talk about the Japanese response to the launch, the North Korean reponse to the failure, and whether or not people are tacitly starting to accept North Korean space capabilities. Are the DPRK's space capabilities overlapping with their missile capabilities? How far have their technological arcs diverged, and where are they still overlapping? And is the Chollima-1's second stage a stolen Ukrainian design, or something new and domestic? Support us over at!


Shangri-la Dialogue with Ankit Panda

Ankit Panda joins Jeffrey by the every so fancy pool at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, where they talk about competing speeches and messaging, the views on US-China competition from Southeast Asia, and about how Jeffrey didn't make any new friends in the PLA this year. Support us over at!


The CAT I is Out of the Bag

Ukraine is getting the SCALP-EG/Storm Shadow cruise missile, and that's raising a whole lot of questions about MTCR guidelines Jeffrey and Aaron talk about the history of the Missile Technology Control Regime, what it was meant to originally address, and the whole host of problems associated with figuring out what a destabilizing cruise missile really looks like. Support us over at!


The Washington Declaration

President Yoon of South Korea recently visited the United States to talk nukes and Don McLean with President Biden. Jeffrey and Aaron talk through what the Declaration actually covers, how much was material and how much was fluff, and the moonwalking capabilities of the D5 SLBM. Support us over at!


FINALLY. North Korea's Solid ICBM: The Hwasong-18

FINALLY. After almost a decade of hinting and teasing and parading fake empty canisters, North Korea has debuted its long-awated solid propellant ICBM. And the team have some questions about where the construction and testing sites were... Jeffrey, Scott, and Dave descend upon the CNS DC offices for a rare in-person podcast to commemorate the event we've been waiting on for years. Support us over at!


Iran, the IAEA, and the Kingdom

The IAEA is doing a great job with the s**t we're handing them. A very jetlagged Jeffrey joins Aaron to talk about the IAEA and the very positive role that Director General Rafael Grossi has played in trying to hold together the nuclear situation with Iran. JCPOA-holdover cameras, discontinuity in footage, and a bunch of suddenly friendliness from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia all make for a tense and confusing situation. Support us over at!


The Actual Demise of New START

New START has been in peril for years. The first episode of the pod was about the INF Treaty being in danger, and here we are, 8 years later, with almost no arms control treaties left. Maybe it is time to rename the pod Arms Race Wonk, because the next few years are going to be scary. Jeffrey and Aaron talk through the Era Without (Bilateral) Arms Control, the immanent two-front deterrence challenge, and how being scared as **** is the only way we know deterrence is working. Support us over at!


Another North Korean Missile Parade

Jeffrey, Aaron, and Scott say the unthinkable: we're a little tired of the parades. But we're glad the youthes are still ordering pizza and crowding around the computer to watch. North Korea paraded at least 15 ICBMs, including 4 that were clearly meant to look like solid-propellent ICBMs. We've been down this road before, they've played with our hearts. But now we're in the era where a solid ICBM is very possible, and a solid ICBM test is expected. The team talks about what got paraded, what the solid propellant ICBMs mean, the end of several long-running ACW threads, and Scott gets real excited about big trucks. Support us over at!


One of Them is Wrong About That

Both plan on going first, but... President Yoon Suk-yeol of South Korea is being piled on for discussing South Korean pursuits of nuclear weapons (although what he said *exactly* was distorted a little). In the face of increasing pressure to respond to North Korea's nuclear posture, South Korea is realistically pursuing capabilities for rapid, precision strikes. North Korea feels similarly. As Jeffrey always says: both plan on going first in a conflict, but one of them is going to be wrong. Jeffrey and Aaron walk through President Yoon's statements, the complexities of the security situation on the Korean Peninsula, and the instabilities that result from mutual pre-emptive strike postures. Support us over at!