There are now indications that the Ukraine is a major contributor to the recent rapid advancement in the North Korean ICBM program.
The only question is whether the technology transfer id the result of corruption or espionage.
My money is on the latter:
Pyongyang’s rogue missile-firing has evoked a commotion among its neighbours. But the anger has turned into threats after Kim Jong-un’s regime astounded the world on July 4 – Independence Day in the United States – with its first intercontinental ballistic missile, which flew almost 1,000 kilometers after being launched.
The Hwasong-14, which means ‘fire star’ in Korean, reached an altitude of 2,802 km and traveled 933 kilometers east into the Sea of Japan after a 39-minute flight.
The international community had previously been told that it could take more than 10 years before Pyongyang could come up with an ICBM prototype that might pose a substantial threat – until Hwasong-14 skirted across the airspace of northern Japan.
The Russian Defence Ministry initially believed the missile was merely one of the many makeshift “toys” that the Kim regime liked to parade, but the Pentagon confirmed shortly after that it was the real deal.
Russian missile experts who examined photos of Hwasong-14 were quoted as saying the North Korean ICBMs may be copycat versions of long-range missiles made by the Soviet Union, such as the SS-18 Satan, capable of carrying multiple warheads with independently targetable reentry vehicles, Kanwa Defense Review has said.
The Hwasong missiles bear all the hallmarks of the SS-18, and one telling indicator is its strikingly similar fairings.
An initial analysis of the known trajectory and payload of the Hwasong family has lent fresh evidence to conjecture that Pyongyang may have obtained key ICBM technology from the Ukraine-based Yuzhnoye Design Office, which was once a Soviet Union bastion for rockets and advanced weaponry research and development, but is now allegedly laden with debt.
North Korea’s ability to “skip grades” in missile technology, notably in regard to composite materials, solid fuels, and warhead thermo-protection, has spooked analysts, who now suspect the regime may have taken lessons from outside, given that Pyongyang is hard pressed to even feed its own population.
“Since 2000, Pyongyang has been sending spies to Ukraine, sometimes via Moscow, forcing the latter of tip-off Kiev to intercept [them]. But it appears that the strained ties between Moscow and Kiev are now playing into Pyongyang’s hand,” an observer said.
Or they are just paying money.
Even if Pyongyang got the plans for the rocket, getting the necessary manufacturing and systems expertise to make sense of those plans a non trivial endeavor. (It’s probably more difficult for spies to get the latter)
That’s why my guess is that someone at the Yuzhnoye Design Office got paid for the information.