The Reuters news agency is quoting U.S. intelligence officials as saying they believe North Korea can produce its own missile engines and does not need to import the technology from Ukraine.
The Reuters report on August 15 provides backing to Ukraine, which has denied supplying North Korea with any missile technology, and runs counter to a new study by the International Institute for Strategic Studies which said that Pyongyang probably obtained the engines used in its latest ballistic-missile tests on the black market from factories in Ukraine or Russia.
Reuters quoted one U.S. intelligence official as saying: "We have intelligence to suggest that North Korea is not reliant on imports of engines.... Instead, we judge they have the ability to produce the engines themselves."
An August 14 report in The New York Times, citing an analysis by a missile expert and classified assessments by U.S. intelligence agencies, said that "North Korea’s success in testing an intercontinental ballistic missile that appears able to reach the United States was made possible by black-market purchases of powerful rocket engines probably from a Ukrainian factory."
When asked about the matter on August 15, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said that Ukraine has a "very strong nonproliferation record."