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What’s up with Taiwan’s cruise missile program? What in the world compelled the Taiwanese government to deploy the HF-2E in poorly disguised civilian still trucks? And how cool is it that Taiwan displayed the HF-2E’s engine?

To get to the bottom of Taiwan’s cruise missile program, Aaron and Jeffrey speak with Dennis Gormley, the author of Missile Contagion and A Low Visibility Force Multiplier, about the proliferation of cruise missiles, the lack of an effective cruise missile defense, and Taiwan’s efforts to date.

 
 

Above: Monument to the Chagai (or Chaghi) Hills nuclear test site, Faizabad Interchange, Islamabad, Pakistan.

What benefits are conferred by nuclear weapons? Do they provide status? Not like in the past. North Korea and Pakistan haven’t gained status by having the Bomb. Instead, they have become more worrisome countries. Do they alleviate security concerns? Possessing nuclear weapons against a similarly-armed foe or against an adversary with stronger conventional capabilities provides a sense of deterrence, dissuasion, and national assurance. To give the Bomb its due, during the Cold War, nuclear weapons helped keep border skirmishes limited between major powers, fostered cautionary behavior in severe crises, and reinforced a natural disinclination to engage in large-scale conventional wars. These were – and remain — significant accomplishments.

But the Bomb always promises more than it delivers. Possessing the Bomb, even in significant numbers, has not deterred limited border clashes between nuclear-armed states, conventional wars with non-nuclear-weapon states, punishing proxy wars and severe crises. The Bomb isn’t stabilizing; it exacerbates security dilemmas and can engender risk taking as well as caution. The Bomb promises advances in security that are quickly undercut by countermeasures taken by wary adversaries.

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We love Serial. But what does it have to with arms control, nonproliferation, and disarmament – nothing, really. So why talk about it? Geospatial analysis, of course.

No, really!

Today, Jeffrey and Aaron speak with Susan Simpson, an associate at the Volkov Law Group (and an expert in national security law), about geospatial analysis and how it relates to the Serial podcast.

The View From LL2 | Thoughts on law, economics, and all things slightly geeky. – Susan’s blog

 
 

Secretary of State John Kerry is headed for the subcontinent, where his most important messages will be delivered in private and his public remarks will be as bland as possible. That’s how the game is played. Don’t expect U.S. officials to say much in public about nuclear issues or the pathways to confrontation and conflict between India and Pakistan. Press releases and public statements are designed to avoid unnecessary controversies. Since even minor instances of public candor raise hackles, U.S. public diplomacy consists of whispers and indirect messages.

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As 2014 comes to a close, it’s time to count blessings and announce the winners of ACW’s year-end contest to name movie titles and creatures related to the Bomb.

The arms-control business is a notoriously glass-half-full/half-empty enterprise. In the spirit of the season, let’s acknowledge some positives. The stock values of nuclear weapons for major powers continued to fall after another year without mushroom clouds and nuclear testing. Vladimir Putin spent large sums modernizing his nuclear arsenal and flexing muscle while Russia’s economy tanked. Another year has passed without the explosion of a dirty bomb. Also a year of curtailed Iranian centrifuge enrichment programs – not nearly enough for some, but more than skeptics had reason to expect. A year in which India and Pakistan did not have a crisis. A year in which the framework for strategic arms reductions remained in place, despite Ukraine and Crimea. A year when Bashar al-Assad gave up much of his chemical arsenal — safely removed from a war zone. A year in which norms for arms trade have been codified. They will be broken, but it’s a start. Not such a bad year, after all.

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Update: The “read more” link should work – The Wonktern

Even for a nation accustomed to severe trials, what happened in Peshawar on December 16th was unbearable. Pakistani children, mostly belonging to military families, along with their teachers, were gunned down with automatic weapons held by nihilists posing as religious zealots. Another ring of Dante’s Inferno reached — beyond murdering health care workers trying to inoculate children from polio.

Conspiracies occlude reality in Pakistan. Zealots still given air time tell viewers not to believe the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan’s press release admitting responsibility for slaughter. Also disregard the group photos of stalwart child-killers. Apologists continue to say it was because of the Americans. Or the drone strikes. Or the Indians, Israelis, Uzbeks, or Arabs. At least Imran Khan, the most popular politician in Pakistan at present, and a former apologist for the TTP, has now pinned responsibility where it belongs. As has Maulana Fazlur Rehman, the head of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Party.

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The space debris problem continues to grow as diplomats move at a snail’s pace to take remedial steps. Every piece of space debris about the size of a marble is a lethal weapon, traveling with the approximate energy of a one-ton safe dropped from a five-story building. Anything struck by a debris fragment this size will create a new mutating, lethal debris field. NASA’s Donald J. Kessler co-authored a seminal article in 1978 [Journal of Geophysical Research, Vol. 83, no. A6, June 1, 1978] which forecast that pin-ball effects created by successive collisions would eventually make low Earth orbit unsustainable for space operations.

Wake-up calls abound. The indispensable industry trade weekly, Space News, reports in its October 6th issue that space-faring nations are doing a “mediocre job,” especially in low Earth orbit, of respecting voluntary guidelines on debris mitigation endorsed by the United Nations in 2007 after almost two decades of deliberation by the Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordinating Committee, a consortium of space agencies from almost all major space-faring nations. A study by the French space agency, CNES, concluded that 40 percent of the satellites and rocket bodies launched from 2000-2012 will not meet voluntary guidelines.

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Today, Jeffrey and Aaron discuss the history of Saudi Arabia’s missile program and the reasons for the Kingdom’s new openness vis-a-vis its ballistic missiles.

Saudi Rattles Its Saber | NTI Analysis – by Jeffrey and Ala Alrababah

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(Post has been updated. See below.)

I’m getting concerned. No one has submitted a list of movie monsters that are bomb-related. Is anybody out there working on this? Is this contest to name enlarged movie creatures due to man’s folly going to flop?

Update | 19 Dec 2014

Here’s a sweetener, courtesy of Bradley Laing:

Beast from 20,000 Fathoms

Horror of Party Beach

Godzilla

Now Bradley has not named the monsters in question for his first two entries. Seeing as how I’m completely unfamiliar with the “Horror of Party Beach” — which seems like a must-see movie — I’m at a loss to know the creature. I’m beginning to think this creature does not have a name. Or a nickname.

Come to think of it, the beast from 20,000 fathoms probably didn’t have a name, either.

Godzilla is the exception to the rule. And maybe his real name was different. We just don’t know.

So I think I need to change the rules of this contest on the fly. Just list the names of monster movies built around creatures with plot lines related to the Bomb. And if the creatures have names, then by all means list them, too. We could use this as a tie-breaker. Or something.

Hmmmm. I will be the first to admit that this contest was poorly conceived. Sometimes group think really is better than solo excursions.

If I change the contest to naming movies built around bomb-generated creatures, including creatures with no names, then I have to allow sequels, and sequels to sequels.

So be it. For franchises, it’s OK to list separate movie titles. Extra credit for listing creatures with names or nicknames.

These contest rules are subject to change.

 
 

The INF debate continues. The controversy about Russia’s new cruise missile raises a number of key questions about American strategy in Europe: How should the United States respond to Russia’s INF violation? What are the security implications of a new Russian ground launched cruise missiles? Has Russia’s “circumvention” of state sovereignty changed the game? And – in a change from the status quo – the show does not end on a positive note, but rather with a gloomy prediction.

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