North Korea tested a 1500 km-range cruise missile, which is capable of delivering a nuclear or conventional warhead against targets throughout South Korea and Japan. A short thread.
Kim Jong Un, in January, announced that North Korea had developed "intermediate-range cruise missiles" during his speech to the Worker's Party Congress. As a result, all the DPRK watchers I know had "LACM test" on their 2021 bingo cards. The national defence science sector developed the super-larg
At the time, Kim's remark caused a lot of us to reassess some launchers we saw at the October 2020 and January 2021 parades. The system tested looks a bit different from the one in the parade. One difference of several: The system tested today had five canisters instead of four.
The timing of the test is easy to understand. The US and South Korea conducted a series of military drills in August. When we practice attacking them, they practice nuking us. The North Koreans were pretty noisy about this.
Kim Yo Jong was direct. She described the US-ROK exercises as having an "aggressive nature as they are a war rehearsal and preliminary nuclear war exercise" said and that they would "counter the US on the principle of power for power ..."…
Kim Yong Chol was even more direct a couple of days later. I am not sure what else he could have said or done short of sticking his arms out like wings and pretending to be a cruise missile in flight ... "On Aug. 1, upon authorization of the Party Central Com
A an intermediate-range land-attack cruise missile is a pretty serious capability for North Korea. This is another system that is designed to fly under missile defense radars or around them.
Fun fact: The UNSCRs on North Korea only cover ballistic missiles! That's not because ballistic missiles are somehow more threatening than cruise missiles. It's because the architects of the resolutions lacked the imagination of Kim Jong Un and his Academy of Defense Sciences.
For some reason, it's always very hard to get people to take cruise missile proliferation seriously. Well, here we are! Maybe this will do it? Dennis Gormley passed away recently, but if he were with us he'd say "I told you so."…

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More from @ArmsControlWonk

31 Aug
The @iaeaorg announced that North Korea restarted its 5 MWe gas-graphite plutonium production reactor at Yongbyon in July. A short thread with some satellite images on open source monitoring of nuclear reactor operations.
The @iaeaorg observed that North Korea was discharging cooling water into the river. Reactors get very hot when they operate. North Korea cools the reactor core with CO2 gas (hence "gas-graphite") and then uses water in a secondary cooling loop.
If North Korea runs the reactor, it must dump hot water in the river or the core will melt. Water discharge signaling operations is what the @iaeaorg and the open source community saw over the summer. @planet got an especially pretty picture of water discharge on July 30.
Read 10 tweets
23 Jun
Last week, Iran conducted a failed space launch. Iran is now getting ready to try again. @DaveSchmerler and I worked it all out with open sources, then @ZcohenCNN got the Pentagon to confirm it. A short OSINT thread. 1/10
Last week, @DaveSchmerler noticed that a June 6 image of the Imam Khomeini Spaceport from @Maxar showed indicators that are normally associated with space launches in Iran. These are the same signatures that we used to predict previous space launches. 2/10
One of those signatures is a lot of vehicles showing up at the horizontal checkout building. On June 6, there were more than a dozen vehicles there -- something that only happens before space launches. 3/10
Read 10 tweets
10 Jun
Going through Nexis, the term "lab leak" appears occasionally in news about past events (Winnipeg 1999, China 2004 and the UK 2007) but it is largely confined to headlines where space is tight.
Scholar articles are more revealing. There are very few uses of "lab leak" or "laboratory leak" in scholarly journals *except* in reference to the current pandemic.…
Read 5 tweets
23 Apr
It wasn't an explosion -- it was a test of a solid rocket motor. A thread. (1/12)
Here is the video that caused all the fuss. There is no explosion, just an intense fire that seems to go out by itself. (2/12)
Compare what you see in that video with images of a test of a large solid propellant rocket motor in the US, especially at the 3:11 mark. (3/12)
Read 13 tweets
12 Apr
I basically agree with this back-and-forth about why Israel would want to prevent a diplomatic solution to Iran's nuclear program even though the sabotage campaign cannot reasonably be expected to prevent Iran from ultimately building nuclear weapons if it chooses.
As one colleague admitted pre-JCPOA: He was against a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear problem because fear of Iran's nuclear weapons program was the most effective issue around which to organize a campaign to isolate the Islamic Republic.
He wanted sanctions because he loathed the regime and wanted it removed. He was frank about his goal and clear-eyed about his strategy: Other countries would not support sanctions for Iran's other malign behaviors, only for the nuclear issue. So, you go with your best argument.
Read 5 tweets
15 Mar
The place to start is by noting that Biden's people have started repeating a Trump-era formulation: "The denuclearization of North Korea." I've seen in the #Quad statement, as well as the bilat with Japan. The Biden-Harris Administration is working to strengthen AmeWe reaffirm our commitment to the complete denuclearization
Here is the problem with this phrase. What Kim said was "denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula." Same phrase used since Kim Il Sung and what it means is that the US needs to stop threatening North Korea with nuclear weapons, not that he will disarm.…
Read 16 tweets

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