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Ukraine Rejects Claims It Supplied Rocket Engines To North Korea

Oleksandr Turchynov (right), the chief of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council (file photo)
Oleksandr Turchynov (right), the chief of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council (file photo)

Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council has rejected reports that Kyiv supplied missile technology to North Korea, saying that such claims amounted to Russian disinformation.

The council on August 22 published the results of its investigation into the alleged sale of missile technology, including the RD-250 rocket engine, from Ukrainian state-owned plant Pivdenmash to North Korea.

Oleksandr Turchynov, the council's chief, reported the results of the investigation to President Petro Poroshenko on August 22, the council said in a post on its website.

The council concluded that Ukraine did not supply any missile technology to Pyongyang, Turchynov said in his report. The council has "unanimously come to the conclusion that Ukraine was not involved in the development of North Korea's ballistic-missiles program," Turchynov said.

It said Ukraine had stopped producing RD-250 rocket engines in 1991 and completely discontinued the production of this engine type in 1994.

The last batch of RD-250 rocket engines was exported to Russia before 2008, Turchynov said.

The council established a team of interagency investigators to look into claims made in a New York Times article earlier this month that Ukraine had helped North Korea with its missile program by providing advanced rocket engines.

The council concluded that the American newspaper had been the victim of Russian disinformation.

The August 14 article, titled North Korea’s Missile Success Is Linked to Ukrainian Plant, Investigators Say, said Kyiv had aided North Korea in developing its nuclear weapons delivery system.

The allegations were based on a study by missile expert Michael Elleman published by the International Institute for Strategic Studies think tank.

Elleman’s study, as well as unnamed sources in U.S. intelligence, said that the rocket engines -- identified as RD-250s -- “likely” came to North Korea from Ukraine's Yuzhny machine-building plant known as Pivdenmash in Ukrainian or Yuzhmash in Russian.

Turchynov said that an “existing state export control system excludes any possibility of the transfer of military and dual-use goods" to countries under UN Security Council sanctions, such as North Korea.

Thirty RD-250 rocket engines and 10 RD-262s (a modified version of the RD-250), manufactured in 1991, were exported to Russia between 1992 and 2008, Turchynov said in his report.

Reports of the detention and conviction of North Korean spies for an attempt to steal missile technology papers from Ukraine in 2012 were not confirmed.

"Documentation for the production of missile technology and components is reliably stored at specially equipped premises, which is confirmed by the relevant authorities of Ukraine," Turchynov said.

The interagency investigation concluded that Russian is running a disinformation campaign intended to deflect suspicions about Moscow's potential participation in Pyongyang's military program and discredit Ukraine.

"The Working Group considers the article in The New York Times of 14 August 2017 to be a tactic of obfuscation and distraction of the international community's attention from the possible participation of the Russian Federation in North Korea's rocket program," Turchynov said in his report.

Poroshenko, commenting on the report, said he had instructed the Foreign Ministry to put together a group of experts and take the issue to the UN Security Council.

With reporting by
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