Ploughshares Fund Grantee Drives National Security News - With His Blog
Ploughshares Fund grantee, Jeffrey Lewis, broke a major story this week creating headlines around the country.
Jeff’s blog, Arms Control Wonk, first reported that the missiles North Korea unveiled in a military parade last week were likely fakes. Nuclear expert Joshua Pollack, a regular contributor to the blog, covered the news, with pictures of the missiles, along with analysis, updates, and input from readers.
Still, reporters seemed to be missing the story. As Jeff wrote, “To the extent that this new missile has received any attention at all, it is the truck [that transported the missile] that seems to interest reporters. I find that fascinating…but stop ignoring the missile!” Jeff published an analysis by German missile experts Markus Schiller and Robert Schmucker whose critical examination of the evidence led them to conclude that the missiles are mock-ups, not actual missiles that could threaten America or any other nation.
Then the story took off. Major media publications began to pick up the news about North Korea’s Potemkin missiles. The New York Times ran the story, citing Schiller and Schumaker’s analysis as key evidence and referring to Lewis’ blog:
After a close analysis of photographs from the parade, the missile experts, Markus Schiller and Robert Schmucker, found what they said were tell-tale signs of fakery. The warhead’s surface, they wrote in a paper posted on a respected arms control Web site, is undulated, “as if a thin metal sheet was fixed onto a simple inner frame.” The missiles were slightly different from each other, with covers mounted horizontally on one missile and vertically on another, and they did not even fit the launchers they were carried on, the analysts said.
“It is therefore clear that the presented missiles are only mock-ups of low quality,” they wrote in a post on the Web site, armscontrolwonk.com.
The Washington Post picked up the story as well, headlining “Analysts say new missiles displayed by N. Korea are sloppy fakes, show no sign of advancement.” They stated:
“There is no doubt that these missiles were mock-ups,” Markus Schiller and Robert Schmucker, of Germany’s Schmucker Technologie, wrote in a paper posted recently on the website Armscontrolwonk.com that listed those discrepancies. “It remains unknown if they were designed this way to confuse foreign analysts, or if the designers simply did some sloppy work.”
I myself had the opportunity to discuss the implications of North Korea’s nuclear developments in an interview with ABC World News.
Without the contribution of Lewis and his blog, it is likely that this groundbreaking story would have gone unnoticed.
Arms Control Wonk began as a personal side project for Lewis, but is now a major part of his work as Director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterrey Institute of International Studies (MIIS). Ploughshares Fund has funded MIIS since 2006, supporting this effort most recently with a $65,000 grant to Jeff in February of this year for his work on the nuclear weapons budget.
Arms Control Wonk is a blog to watch. Go take a look. And stay tuned for more.