Arms Control Wonk ArmsControlWonk


Last month Secretary Gates made the comment that North Korea was within five years of being able to hit the United States with an ICBM.  Over at Joel Wit’s wonderful 38 North Blog, David Wright and myself have complementary pieces regarding North Korea’s ICBM capabilities.

My piece, “Official Estimates of the Taepo Dong 2″, examines the over 15 year history of U.S. government estimates regarding North Korea’s ballistic missiles.

David’s piece, “Secretary Gates and the North Korean Missile Threat”, examines actual North Korean capabilities and possible future developments.

Check them out and let me know what you think.

As a side note, I had the honor of writing on the Wonk as a result of working for Jeffrey while he was at New America. When he departed New America, I stayed on and focused on terrorism and India-Pakistan issues with the Counter-terrorism team. Now, I’m looking elsewhere to stay in the field of nuclear weapons policy and nonproliferation. If you know of positions  or opportunities around DC, let me know. Thanks readers.


As one of the continuing efforts to provide additional resources to our readers,  I thought I would provide links and article lists of the KPA Journal by Joseph S. Bermudez Jr.

KPA Journal is a valuable resource on the Korean People’s Army.  Each issue and article title are listed after the jump. Special thanks also to North Korea Leadership Watch.

Vol 1, No-1:  Salvage of a DPRK “Mother Ship” |  KPA Engineer River Crossing Units During the Fatherland Liberation War, Part 1

Vol 1, No-2: KPA Engineer River Crossing Units, Part 2 | KN-02 SRBM | Editor’s Notes | Endnotes

Vol 1, No-3: KPA Engineer River Crossing Units, Part 3 | Scud B SRBM | KPAF Fortified SAM Base | Editor’s Notes | Endnotes | Addendum: Hang-gang Bridges | Addendum: KN-02 TEL

Vol 1, N0-4: Noto-Hanto Infiltration, March 1999 | P’okpoong (Storm) Main Battle Tank | DPRK Intelligence Agencies, 1967-1971 | Editor’s Notes | Endnotes

Vol 1, No-5: DPRK Intelligence Services 1967-1971 | Part 2, Han-gang Bridges June-August 1950 | Editor’s Notes | Endnotes

Vol 1, No-6: DPRK Intelligence Services 1967-1971, Part 3 | Addendum: P’okpoong Main Battle Tank | Editor’s Notes

Vol 1, No-7: The KPA Mechanized Infantry Battalion | BTR-60 in KPA Service | Addendum: Han-gang Bridges |Addendum: P’okpoong Main Battle Battle Tanks | Editor’s Notes

Vol 1, No-8: KPA Engineer River Crossing Forces | A Look Inside a DPRK “Mother Ship | Editor’s Notes | End Notes

Vol 1, No-9: Mi-2 Hoplite in KPA Service | KPA Lessons Learned from Foreign Conflicts | Vice Marshall Jo Myong Rok | Vice Marshall Yi Tu-ik | Editor’s Notes | Endnotes


One of the strangest and most interesting stories of the last week has been the apparent cyber attack on Iranian computer systems that may have targeted the nuclear plant at Bushehr. The malware virus, Stuxnet, also struck parts of China, Indonesia, India and Pakistan, but was largely focused in Iran.

The malware, Stuxnet, attacks Siemens Windows OS software and is incredibly aggressive. Stuxnet, unlike other forms of malware that extract information, allegedly can take control of an automated system and change it. What makes Stuxnet frightening is the level of sophistication.  It is complex, targeted and massive, a completely new virus that has the feel of a cyber warfare weapon.

Iranian officials stated the malware had infected 30,000 computer systems, including personal computers for personnel who work at Bushehr. Officials stated it will take a month or two to root it out.  It is unclear if the virus directly attacked the power facility or if the virus attacked other Iranian nuclear facilities. It is also unclear if it is the main reason for the now three month delay for startup at the Bushehr plant.

What makes the story interesting is the level of sophistication is only possible by a government or a highly trained group, leaving speculation that the attack came from the United States or Israel. However, no government or organization has claimed responsibility. So, the question remains, who dunnit?

The immediate response is the United States or Israel committed the attack. This morning John Markoff and David Sanger of the New York Times authored a piece offering the idea that perhaps the Israelis, specifically their Technology Intelligence section Unit 8200, launched the virus.  However, the sole link to the Israelis is the mysterious word “Myrtus”, embedded in the virus, a possible reference to the Biblical Book of Esther, and a Jewish preemption of a Persian attack. The evidence is mere speculation, but offers some possible clues.

There have been previous reports of efforts to covertly sabotage Iran’s nuclear program, which may explain the decline in the number of Iranian centrifuges at the Nantanz plant.  These efforts involve stories of faulty centrifuge parts and stopping shipments from arriving in Iran. The NYT story today did not directly link the virus to the Natanz facility, but linked it to an ongoing effort by Western governments to covertly sabotage the Iranian program.

But, maybe laying blame at the U.S. or Israel is too quick a judgment. Other states like India, Russia, an Arab state like Saudi Arabia, or a European state could have also created Stuxnet. Each has their own motives for slowing an Iranian program. Also, while not outside the realm of possibility, highly sophisticated Iranian dissident groups could have created and launched the virus.

There are many unanswered questions, like the true target of the attack, if the virus just spiraled out of control, which led it to affect other systems in other countries, and extent of the damage. There is not enough information to accurately pinpoint the guilty party or the true motivation.

However, if the Stuxnet attack was government sponsored and not a third party, then perhaps it is an example of the impact of cyber warfare. The debate for potential containment of Iran  is usually framed in a kinetic military component, military strikes, arms deals to Saudi Arabia, etc.  Perhaps, this latest attack is a glimpse of the behind the scenes world of cyber warfare and exploiting another country’s infrastructure.

In moving forward with discussions on the Iranian nuclear program, the Stuxnet virus may provide analysts another variable in calculating  possible deterrence and containment with Iran.  If it is a cyber attack weapon, what are its implications on military strategy? On diplomatic strategy?  Is an attack fully untraceable, or can Iran attribute an attacker? How would Iran respond to a cyber attack on its nuclear facilities? Would Iran immediately assume Israel or the U.S. launched an attack even if both did not launch the virus?  All are interesting questions looking forward.


With DC returning back from its summer vacation, there are numerous events going on around the city.

Several events are today and a few later in the week.

  • September 13, 12:00-1:30 p.m., Gen. Kevin Chilton, Commander, U.S. Strategic Command, “Nuclear Deterrence, Arms Control, Missile Defense, and Defense Policy.” Part of the NDUF-NDIA Seminar Series. At the Capitol Hill Club, 300 First St., SE, Washington
  • September 13, 2:00-3:00 p.m., Rose Gottemoeller, Assistant Secretary of State for Verification, Compliance, and Implementation, and Richard Burt, Global Zero, “A Discussion on the New START Treaty.” Georgetown University, Copley Formal Lounge, 37th and O Sts., NW, Washington.
  • September 13, 2:00-4:00 p.m., Henry Sokolski, Nonproliferation Policy Education Center, “Missiles for Peace: Dual-Track Options.” Carnegie Endowment, 1779 Massachusetts Ave., NW, Washington.
  • September 13, 7:00-9:00pm, Sen. Richard Lugar (IN), “America and the New Nuclear Strategy.” George Washington University, Jack Morton Auditorium, 805 21st St., NW, Washington. This event is full, however.

Other events this week:

  • September 14, 8:00-9:00am, Missile Defense Policy, National Defense University Foundation, Peppi DeBiaso, Office of the Undersecretary of Defense, Capitol Hill Club, 300 First Street, SE, Washington, DC, RSVP
  • September 14, 12:00-2:00 p.m., Amitai Etzioni, George Washington University; Robert Litwak, Wilson Center; and Ray Takeyh, Council on Foreign Relations, “Deterring a Nuclear Iran: Can It Be Done?” Wilson Center, Fifth Floor Conference Room, Regan Building, 1300 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington.
  • September 16, 9:30 a.m., Senate Foreign Relations Committee, vote on the New START Treaty. Room TBA, Capitol Hill, Washington.

As always, if you would like to send out an announcement for an event of report, please email


I just returned from the three week course on Public Policy and Nuclear Threats at the IGCC school at University of California San Diego in La Jolla. Jeffrey made mention of the course back in March. It was a wonderful three weeks, with a great diverse group of fellows and speakers.  The program is not just for PhD political science students, but also policy wonks,  and technical oriented students/ workers. Discussions focused on the theory, policy, and technical details of nuclear weapons and threats.  The other fellows in the program all came from a diverse background of political science, nuclear physics and engineering, the national labs, and the NGO/ think tank world.

The course was split into three weeks, with the first focusing on the nuts and bolts of nuclear weapons, the weapons complex, deterrence theory, and force posture and structure. The second week dove into more technical details with the nonproliferation regime, the IAEA, the ins and outs of safeguards, monitoring, on-site inspections, nuclear forensics, and domestic nuclear interdictions. The final week examined proliferation causes and effects, Russia/ New START, Iran, Israel, India, Pakistan, North Korea, China, Europe/ NATO tactical nuclear weapons, and nuclear abolition.

As mentioned, the speakers were great and wide ranging, including Scott Sagan, Robert Powell, Marvin Adams, Jeffrey Larsen, Ambassador Susan Burk, Robert Kelley, Brad Roberts, Michael May, Ambassador Marcie Ries, Hans Kristensen, Frank Miller, Ambassador Jack Pritchard, Susan Shirk, and numerous others.

I also must note that Ambassador Linton Brooks was fantastic as scholar-in-residence for the duration of the course. He provided excellent information and answered any questions from the fellows. I must also commend Program Director and speaker Rob Brown for leading discussions and Laura Martin for providing logistical support for the group. Also, thanks to all the fellows who joined me in this years program to make it quite a success.

The three week course is a great chance for young professionals and students to get some real substance on the issue of nuclear weapons policy.  I strongly recommend someone who is serious about entering or advancing in the field to consider applying for the program next year. Plus, the weather in La Jolla  is great (even if it was cloudy 3/4 of the time I was there).


Greetings from (not so) sunny San Diego. I hope the people back east are enjoying the sweltering heat.  I just finished the first of three weeks at the UCSD IGCC Public Policy and Nuclear Threats Summer Training Program. But, last week the Senate Foreign Relations Committee concluded twelve hearings on the New START Treaty.  The hearings focused on the history of arms control, context of the treaty, the negotiations, verification, U.S. national security, the inspection regime, and impact on the stockpile.

Here is a list of the hearings.

Hearings started on April 29, with the chairs of the Congressional Strategic Posture Commission, James Schlesinger and William Perry, who discussed the historic and modern context for U.S.-Russian Arms Control. Both men voiced their support for the treaty. The Obama administration formally presented their argument for ratification on May 18 with Secretary of State Clinton, Secretary of Defense Gates and Joint Chiefs Chair Adm. Mullen. Providing further historical and national strategic implications were James Baker, Henry Kissinger, Brent Scrowcroft, and Stephen Hadley, who all voiced questions and areas of concern, but expressed their general support for the treaty.

Committee members then heard, in closed and open sessions on June 8 and 15 respectively,  Rose Gottemoeller, Assistant Secretary of State for Verification and Compliance Chief U.S. Negotiator, and Edward L. Warner III , Secretary of Defense Representative to Post- START Negotiations, on the negotiation process with the Russians.

One June 16, James Miller, Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, Department of Defense, General Kevin Chilton, STRATCOM commander, and Lt. General Patrick O’Reilly, commander of the Missile Defense Agency, gave the Pentagon perspective of the treaty, all in support of ratification.  Implementation and Inspection was the next topic on June 24, with the focus on the on site inspection regimes with James Miller and Kenneth Myers III from DTRA.

The Senate Committee heard from Robert Joseph, Eric Edleman, and Dr. Morton Halperin on the costs and benefits of the treaty also on June 24. Mr. Joseph and Mr. Eldeman both expressed concerns and question about the treaty, but did not suggest Senate rejection. Dr. Halperin stated the treaty followed the recommendations issued by the Strategic Posture Commission and he fully supported the treaty.

On July 14, Rose Gottemoeller presented, in a closed session, information on monitoring and verification of the Russian arsenal under the new treaty. Finally, on July 15, Dr. Michael Anastaiso, Director of Los Alamos National Laboratory, Dr. George Miller, Director of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and Dr. Paul Hommert, Director of Sandia National Laboratory, testified addressing the future of the U.S. nuclear stockpile under the new treaty. The three directors voiced support for the treaty and declared it would not limit their ability to maintain a safe, secure and effective stockpile. But, they did stress that the Congress and the administration must maintain the will to sustain funding for the future as the stockpile decreases in size.

Below is a table of the hearings, topics, dates, whether it was an open or closed session and the speakers. Now, off to the beach….

START Hearings: Topic Date Open/ Closed Speakers
1. The Historical and Modern Context For U.S.-Russian Arms Control 29-Apr-10 Open The Honorable James R. Schlesinger
The Honorable William J. Perry
2. The New START Treaty 18-May-10 Open Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates
Chairman of JCS Admiral Michael Mullen, USN
3. The History and Lessons of START 19-May-10 Open The Honorable James A. Baker
4. The Role of Strategic Arms Control in a Post-Cold War World 25-May-10 Open The Honorable Henry A. Kissinger
5. The New START Treaty: The Negotitations 8-Jun-10 Closed Rose Gottemoeller, Assistant Secretary for Verification and Compliance
Department of State
Edward L. Warner, III, Secretary of Defense Representative to Post- START Negotiations, DoD
6. Strategic Arms Control and National Security 10-Jun-10 Open Lieutenant General Brent Scowcroft
The Honorable Stephen J. Hadley
7. The New START Treaty: The Negotitations 15-Jun-10 Open Rose Gottemoeller, Assistant Secretary for Verification and Compliance
Department of State
Edward L. Warner, III, Secretary of Defense Representative to Post- START Negotiations, DoD
8. The New START Treaty: Views from the Pentagon 16-Jun-10 Open James N. Miller, Jr., Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, DoD
General Kevin P. Chilton, STRATCOM
James Miller Jr. Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, DoD (Afternoon Testimony)
Lieutenant General Patrick J. O’Reilly, Missile Defense Agency
9. The New START Treaty: Implementation-Inspections and Assistance 24-Jun-10 Open James N. Miller, Jr., Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, DoD
Kenneth A. Myers III, Director
Defense Threat Reduction Agency and U.S. Strategic Command Center for Combating Weapons of Mass Destruction
10. The New START Treaty: Benefits and Risks 24-Jun-10 Open The Honorable Robert G. Joseph
The Honorable Eric S. Edelman
Dr. Morton H. Halperin
11. The New START Treaty: Monitoring and Verification of Treaty Compliance 14-Jul-10 Closed Rose Gottemoeller, Assistant Secretary for Verification and Compliance
Department of State
12. The New START Treaty: Maintaining a Safe , Secure, and Effective Nuclear Arsenal 15-Jul-10 Open Dr. Michael R. Anastasio, Director Los Alamos
Dr. George H. Miller, Director Lawrence Livermore
Dr. Paul J. Hommert, Director Sandia
Amb. Linton Brooks (Comments added to the record)

Even in the sweltering July heat, there are still events in the DC area. A few that caught my eye this week.

☞Wednesday, July 14, at noon at CATO.
What to Do about North Korea?
Featuring Stephen Linton, Karin J. Lee, Doug Bandow, and moderated by Ted Galen.
The Cato Institute
1000 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001

☞Thursday, July 15, at 9:30am and 2:30pm are the latest hearings on the NewSTART Treaty. The topic is on Maintaining a Safe, Secure and Effective Arsenal. Dr. Michael R. Anastasio, Dr. George H. Miller, and Dr. Paul J. Hommert, heads of of the three national labs, will testify to the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee

☞Thursday, July 15, from 6:30pm-8:00pm the World Affairs Council-DC is showing the NTI film A Nuclear Tipping Point.
UCDC Washington Center
1608 Rhode Island Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20036

☞Finally, starting Thursday, July 15, at 8:30pm, the American Ensemble Theater is putting on Lee Blessing’s comic drama A Walk in the Woods. The story follows two Cold War nuclear arms negotiators, one American, one Russian, as they struggle to reach an arms reduction agreement. Full dates and times on the website.
Goethe Institut – Gallery
812 7th Street NW
Washington, DC 20001

As always send any event requests to


This week provides some interesting events.

☞ The first is at Carnegie this morning at 9:00am-10:30am with Mark Hibbs and George Perkovich on Nuclear Suppliers in New Zealand: Global Trade Rules at the Crossroads.

☞ Second, another event this morning at 10:00am is the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, hearing on Nuclear Terrorism: Strengthening our Domestic Defenses with Eugene Aloise, Government Accountability Office; Micah Lowenthal, National Academy of Sciences; and Dana Shea, Congressional Research Service. 342 Dirksen Senate Office Building.

☞ Third, following the President’s release of the National Space Policy on Monday, the Arms Control Association is holding an event on July 1 from 2:00pm-3:00pm at Carnegie on “The New National Space Policy – Prospects for International Cooperation and Making Space Safer for All.”
Panelists include Marcia Smith, Ben Baseley-Walker, Bruce MacDonald, and Jeff Abramson.
TO RSVP, please email name and affiliation to Valerie Pacer at or call (202) 463-8270 × 100.

Finally, two reports caught my eye this past week.

GAO, Nuclear Weapons: Actions Needed to Identify Total Costs of Weapons Complex Infrastructure and Research and Production Capabilities

☞ Jonathan Medalia, Detection of Nuclear Weapons and Materials: Science, Technologies, Observations

As always, send your event requests to


In the second of the public service announcements, I’d like to share one event today in DC for the fellow wonks.

The book event is at CATO today at noon entitled Exporting the Bomb: Technology Transfer and the Spread of Nuclear Weapons. The author of the book is Matthew Kroenig, and other speakers are Charles Glaser, Micah Zenko, and moderated by Justin Logan.

For those who cannot attend, the event will be streamed online.

Also this week:
June 25, 8:00-9:00am is a NDU Breakfast event with General Larry Welch, USAF (ret) on Sustaining the Nuclear Deterrent. Event is at The Capitol Hill Club, 300 1st Street SE, Washington, DC 20003

And finally, a new week-long summer programme entitled Disarmament & Non-Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction in a Changing World is being conducted by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the T.M.C. Asser Instituut, both located in The Hague. It runs from 30 August – 03 September, 2010, and will be delivered by an international team of lecturers in related disciplines. Applications are still being accepted.

As always send your event or announcements to


In our best attempt to fully inform our valued readers, I will be providing regular announcements a few times a week of upcoming arms control/ nuclear weapons/ wonky events in the DC area.

I’ll also handle requests from readers. So, if you would like an event announced or other request, please send the information to

I’ll provide the first one.

This Friday, June 18th, 10:00am-11:30am, Brookings is hosting an event on Nuclear and Extended Deterrence: Challenges and Considerations

Panelists include Richard Bush, Vanda Felbab-Brown, Michael E. O’Hanlon, Steven Pifer, and Kenneth Pollack.

The location of the event is the Saul/Zilkha Rooms at The Brookings Institution, 1775 Massachusetts Ave., NW.