Ukrainians were not expecting attack and barely moved it. Respected newspaper The New York Times published this week a study which argues that progress of North Korea in recent years in the tests of Intercontinental ballistic missiles attributable to the purchase on the black market powerful engines from the Ukrainian plant, the former pearl of the Soviet military-industrial complex.
For the Ukrainian authorities to these revelations produced a bombshell. Let this statement is not backed up by concrete facts, it significantly undermines the reputation of the country: Ukraine and its defense industry (though not directly) would be involved in a new nuclear adventurism of the worst dictatorship in the world and sworn enemy of the United States, whose trust it is trying to enlist… for the weapons of his army.
So, what is written by the American newspaper? Two crowned with the laurels of a journalist, Pulitzer prize winners, build an investigation based on the report of the expert on rocket technology Michael Alleman (Michael Elleman) from the International Institute for strategic studies, and information sources in the security services. As can be seen from photos that were made by Kim Jong-UN inspections, the currently used missiles equipped with engines of the type R-250, which are produced only on the territory of the former USSR.
Specialists complex the North Korean issue have noted that after a long series of failed launches that Pyongyang conducted the first successful launch of a ballistic missile in September 2016 with the use of a new type of engine. As noted, “the technology is so complex that the North Koreans could not so quickly to move forward with the acquisition of drawings, materials and know-how on the black market.”
Rocket engines of this type can be manufactured only in two plants: the Russian “Energomash” (the report does not exclude such a hypothesis) and is located in the East of Ukraine “Pivdenmash” – the pearl of the national defense industry. “Perhaps the engines came from the Ukraine, apparently, illegally, — says Ellemann. — While it is not clear how many more engines available to Pyongyang, and they are Ukrainians. This is all very worrisome”.
In Kiev, the head of the national security Council and defense of Ukraine Oleksandr Turchynov immediately blamed Russia, as happens every time is the honor of the country: “This information has no grounds, is provocative in content and, most likely, provoked by Russian special services to cover up their own crimes.”
The operation against the supply of arms
If you read between the lines, it becomes clear that the Ukrainians are confused. To better understand this, should refer to the Ukrainian lobbyist Adrian Karetnikova who has long lived in the United States and is the President of Petro Poroshenko in Washington: “Quite possibly, we are talking about Russian special operation, which aims to undermine the trust of the West to Ukraine as a partner and to prevent the Americans to provide military assistance.”
In late July, the US special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker (Kurt Volker) stated that “the administration trump is considering supplying defensive weapons to Ukraine” to support in its war covered Moscow separatists. According to American media, the Pentagon has prepared for Ukraine the military aid package of 50 million dollars, including the coveted Kiev anti-tank missiles Javelin.
The Ukrainians clearly are not interested in how to alienate Washington. So, how in such situation Ukrainian technology could be in the missiles that Kim Jong-UN pointed to GUAM? Part of the answer lies in the Dnieper (former Kiev) with a population of one million people. There is established in 1954 once the main Soviet plant for the production of strategic missiles and engines. There was assembled the first Soviet rocket with a nuclear warhead.
Until 1991, the Dnepropetrovsk was in this context, a closed town, which did not allow foreigners. Whatever it was, then the situation in this economic center of Eastern Ukraine has changed markedly. In 2012, close to “Yuzhmash” was arrested two North Korean spy: members of the trade representation of the DPRK in Belarus was accused of industrial espionage and sentenced to eight years in prison.
The collapse of the Soviet Union, and the difficulty of reorientation of major arms and aerospace enterprises have created conditions for the formation of a black market, which, according to the experts, and beat the North Koreans. “Until 2014, and the beginning of the war in the Donbass, the Ukrainian defense industry and the military machine was badly corrupted and stuffed with agents of Russia”, — says a source in the Ukrainian defense industry.
According to the head of the national space Agency of Ukraine Yuriy Radchenko, “Yuzhmash” stopped production of the RD-250 in 2001, and, therefore, to use these motors [Pyongyang] need access to technologies that have only Russia and China”. Only here the problem is that no one knows how many actually engines were fired “Yuzhmash” and how they are stored and validated (the same applies to “Energomash”).
Notable progress in the field of weapons
After 27 years of independence the Ukrainian defense sector is still closely linked to Russia, which remains one of the major markets. General designer of KB “southern” Alexander Degtyarev — Russian and works in a factory since 1975, even since the Brezhnev era. The last 20 years “Yuzhmash” was on the verge of collapse. It is engaged in the production of tractors and trams, but found in 2017, a new (formally) civilian contracts.
“Russian military aggression against Ukraine in 2014, of course, cheered the Ukrainian military-industrial complex and a beneficial effect on his potential, — says Sergey Sukonkin of the International centre for policy studies (Kyiv). — Great progress has been made in manufacturing equipment, heavy weapons, small arms and ballistic missiles.”
Ukraine has overcome the military and economic shock of 2014 and consolidated his ninth place in the list of the largest world suppliers of arms with a small gap from Spain and Italy. On the background of the unwillingness of the West to support him in the war Kiev has decided to increase the military budget from 1% to 5% of GDP by 2020. 2016 and 2017 of sales of Ukrainian weapons has doubled, reaching one billion dollars.
Ukrainian engines were delivered to North Korea?
Ukrainian weapons and equipment are sold well in Asia and Africa. The representatives of Ukraine can plenty to harp on morality and, hand on heart, swear that do not sell weapons to “rogue States” like North Korea, but that did not stop them from ending the UN embargo to sell armored vehicles and tanks T-64 the Democratic Republic of the Congo Joseph Kabila.
With regard to the transfer of Ukrainian engines to North Korea, many experts have expressed doubts about the findings of Michael Elleman. So, the chief editor of the prestigious American journal Nonproliferation Review Joshua Pollack (Joshua Pollack) said that Ukrainians are taking sufficient precautions against espionage and recalled that the DPRK was a Soviet industrial culture.
“I don’t think the engines came with “Yuzhmash” or from somewhere else [with Ukraine], he said in an interview with Ukrainian website Gromadske. — At the same time, during these years the North Koreans were able to collect reliable information about the development [of the engines] and ultimately to create their own model with the help of Iran”.