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I have a new column up about the 1987 Institute for Defense Analyses report,  IDA Memorandum, Report M-317 Critical Technology Assessment in Israel and NATO Nations.

The document is hardly secret.  I am pretty sure IDA announced it’s publication in the Technical Reports Awareness Circular so people could order it.  (Although I need to find the right volume.) No matter.

One thing I wanted to point out is how often the report has been referenced publicly.  After all, I tracked down a copy because I had heard about it and seen it cited many times.  Here is a short list.

The first instance I can find is a 1989 article by Michael Gordon in the New York Times.  Gordon wrote:

A 1987 Pentagon-commissioned report, which was disclosed this week, asserts that there is close cooperation between the Israeli universities and Rafael, a military research and development institute, and SOREQ, a scientific center that does research in advanced physics, which the report asserts can be applied in the development of nuclear weapons.

The Pentagon-commissioned report was published by the Institute for Defense Analyses, a Government-financed research center. Information in the report was gathered by a group of American consultants who visited Israel. The material on Israel’s program of nuclear research, for example, was prepared by R. Norris Keeler, a head of physics at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory from 1971 to 1975. Collaboration Seen as Worrisome

The report asserts that Israel is ”roughly where the U.S. was in the fission weapon field in about 1955 to 1960” and adds that SOREQ is developing computer codes that could be useful in ”in studying the implosion of nuclear devices.” The report also states that Rafael and Technion have collaborated ”on the development and simulation of ballistic missile re-entry vehicles.”

See: Michael R. Gordon, “U.S. Sees Israeli Help in Pretoria’s Missile Work,” New York Times, October 27, 1989.

The second instance is W. Seth Carus’s Cruise Missile Proliferation in the 1990s.  Carus wasn’t interested in nuclear weapons, but noted the report contained “the first description of the Delilah” cruise missile.

The third instance is a book by William Burrows and Robert Windrem entitled, Critical Mass: The Dangerous Race for Superweapons in a Fragmenting World (Simon and Schuster, 1994). I think they had a copy, although it isn’t exactly clear to me from the text.

That’s just for starters.  There are now plenty of copies floating around.  I am not certain, but I suspect there might be a copy in the Paul Leventhal files at UT-Austin. Someone should take a peek there, as well as with our friends at the National Security Archive.

But that’s what the comments are for!



The circus continues! In Obama’s America, the truth is revealed! The US helped with Israel’s H-Bomb. But wait, there’s more! To punish Bibi Netanyahu, our Muslim Brotherhood lovin’ president released a declassified a report detailing said cooperation with Israel on nuclear weapon, thus indirectly confirming for the first time Israel’s nuclear program. Scandal, right?

Not really. It turns out that the prestigious news organizations that have reported on this “news” – Iran’s Press TV, Russia Today, The Nation,, and the Weekly Standard – failed to read the never classified document. The study is about missile defense; the Strategic Defense Initiative to be more specific. What does this have to do with nuclear weapons? Edward Teller’s Project Excalibur, or a nuclear pumped X-Ray Laser to shoot down Soviet ICBMs in flight. It goes boom!

To find out more about this story, tune in to the latest podcast.

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I’m deviating from my original plan to blog primarily on open source resources to talk about an issue I usually shy away from. It’s easy to be pigeonholed as the WOMAN rather than the expert. I also like to compartmentalize my work and home life. In a venue where I’m teaching people to use open source analysis, I don’t want to invite attention to my family. Too many women get their lives ruined on the Internet these days.

Last, I hope nobody thinks these comments are meant to undermine friends and colleagues. There’s just a hot pink elephant in the room. Let’s talk about it. Read Full Story →


Catherine here.  For the past year, Jeffrey and I have been looking at China’s Korla Missile Test Complex in Xinjiang, which is where we believe China conducts test launches of its hit-to-kill interceptor.  Jeffrey put up a brief post about part of the site in August, after China conducted a missile defense test this summer on July 24, 2014. The US State Department characterized the event as an anti-satellite test, but Jeffrey likes to point out that it’s better to call it a hit-to-kill test.  What it kills isn’t so important.

In this test, as well as tests on January 11, 2010 and January 27, 2013, China has reportedly launched the HTK interceptor, usually called the SC-19 in the US press, from a site near Korla (库尔勒市), in Xinjiang province.  A possible test occurred on September 25, 2010, but was not officially acknowledged. In that past, China used a CSS-11 missile launched from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center as a target. (Side note, the US intelligence community calls Jiuquan “Shuangchengzi”, which is where the SC in in SC-19 comes from.)

We can now say with high confidence, based on some open-source research, many things about the Korla MTC including the location of many of its assets, that it is subordinate to the General Armaments Department (GAD) and the location of a number of previous missile defense tests.

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Another rare interview with our wet and muddy guest contributor, Chauncey Gardiner:

MK: Chauncey, I love it when you get down and dirty.

CG: Mucking the ponds.

MK: What’s your technique?

CG: Work around the gooey masses of frog eggs. Remove leaves by hand in the shallows. Use the pole and net for deeper ledges. Scrape the mud and pull up soggy leaves. Throw back the salamanders.

MK: Sounds like heavy lifting.

CG: Compared to what? Cleaning up the muck in Washington? There are no salamanders on Capitol Hill.

MK: Not good vote-getters.

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Greetings ACW readers! I’m Catherine Dill, the newest contributor around here.

I am a research associate at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. I dabble in research and training related to all sorts of things, but I spend most of my time looking at nonproliferation and arms control in East Asia, open source analysis for nonproliferation, and strategic trade controls.

I’m very pleased to be able to share some of my work with ACW’s readers. To begin my blogging tenure, I’ll give a short geoquiz à la Melissa Hanham.

I heard a rumor that Melissa’s geoquizzes haven’t been hard enough for some readers, so let’s see what I might be able to do about that. Post your answers in the comments section.

I recently went on a three-country trip. Over on twitter I gave two mini geoquizzes from the first two countries I visited (here and here, if you’re interested, #geolocatecatherine), but I didn’t have time to do one from the third. I’ll remedy that now.

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With negotiations between Iran and the E3/EU+3 coming down to the
wire, Aaron and Jeffrey talk about the circus surrounding the talks
including the false allegations about secret underground centrifuge
plants and nastygrams from members of Congress. Jeffrey has a newborn
and a head-cold, but called in anyway. Why? It’s another emergency

Jeffrey Lewis, “Why a ‘Bad’ Deal With Iran Is Better Than No Deal at
Foreign Policy, March 11, 2015

Jeffrey Lewis, “That Secret Iranian ‘Nuclear Facility’ You Just Found?
Not So Much,”
Foreign Policy, March 3, 2015

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Why on earth would Turkey prevent a NATO ally from prosecuting a suspected Iranian nuclear smuggler who had been arrested in Turkey? Police found that companies Hossein Tanideh controlled were used to camouflage exports of German goods to Iran in violation of a United Nations Security Council embargo on assistance to an Iranian reactor that could make weapons-grade plutonium.

When this mini-drama began unfolding in mid-2013 between Germany and Turkey over the fate of Tanideh, an Iranian government procurement agent who landed in pre-trial detention in Istanbul in January 2013, officials from one NATO country government told me, “we didn’t understand why sending [Tanideh] to Germany was causing so much trouble for Turkey.” Turkey finally instead released Tanideh from custody, and last month I gave some tentative answers here to explain why that happened, concerning a closely-held intelligence-sharing relationship between Turkey and Iran.

Since then, Turkish interlocutors have confirmed to me that Ankara last year permitted Tanideh to flee to Iran, and also that that decision followed from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP)’s evolving and complex relationship with the Iranian regime.

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One of the best parts of my job at CNS is working with students. They come from all over the world, speak multiple languages, and are passionate about arms control. They are also digital natives who like problem solving, and will often chase a lead with Jeffrey and me just for the love of the work.

A few weeks ago Iran posted a Notice to Airmen for the area surrounding the Imam Khomeini Space Centre. NOTAMs are cumbersome to find and decode, so I was pleased when Alex Kynerd, a first year MA candidate, took it upon himself to write an explainer and map it out on Google Earth.

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The Obama presidency has greatly disappointed supporters who view the President as being too aloof and for losing his progressive focus. The best rebuttal to these complaints is to read — or better yet watch — the President’s speech in Selma honoring those who were beaten by Alabama state troopers while demonstrating for their right to vote fifty years ago. In this place, on this anniversary, Obama’s words echoed powerfully, part Church sermon, part civics lesson — a reminder of how he won the presidency despite long odds. Seven years later, intractable problems and relentless opposition have turned his hair gray. His commitment to many causes has not wavered, but his passion has been applied selectively.

At Selma, Obama was the best he could be. A second chorus of criticism is that Obama is not a master of the legislative process, twisting arms, building bridges and framing terms of debate. The result has been gridlock on Capitol Hill. In other words, he’s not Lyndon Baines Johnson, whose string of domestic legislative accomplishments was second only to Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Supporters yearn for Obama to be the LBJ captured in photographs of him towering over and browbeating Senator John Pastore. One of these photos hangs in President Frank Underwood’s Oval Office in “House of Cards,” evoking this fictional President’s brutal powers of persuasion.

Nobody will confuse Obama for LBJ, but the Grand Old Party of the 1960s was a different breed than the Republican Caucus today. LBJ’s nemesis and foil, 1964 presidential candidate Barry Goldwater, famously said during his nomination speech that, “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.” The current Republican vernacular holds that, “Extremism in opposition to Obama is no vice. And moderation in pursuit of bipartisanship is no virtue.”

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