(SN) In the days that followed Monday’s report in The New York Times that North Korea may have illicitly procured advanced Soviet-era rocket engines from Ukraine, the response out of the post-Soviet nation could best be described as trolling.
Not long after the report was published, outraged Ukrainian social media users directed their outrage at the source of the allegations: Michael Elleman, a missile defense expert with the International Institute for Strategic Studies.
The New York Times story referenced in detail a report published by Elleman that same day, in which he noted apparent similarities between North Korea’s new missile engines and those once produced by Yuzmash, the Ukrainian rocket factory that builds the Zenit, Dnepr and Cyclone satellite launchers and the main stage of Orbital ATK’s Antares rocket. […]
Luckily, the expert-level discussion on all sides appears to be more level-headed. Pavel Podvig, who runs the Russianforces.com blog, said that he doubts Elleman’s conclusions.
“Although it’s not entirely impossible, sending actual rocket engines to North Korea would be a very difficult thing to pull off, whether in Russia or Ukraine. And I thought Yuzhmash handled the situation reasonable well,” Podvig said.
Yuzhmash has said all engines of the type Elleman believes are being used by North Korea were produced by the plant and sent to Russia long ago.
“They must have the records. It is a bit unfair to put the burden of proof on them, but maybe they’ll come around to realizing that this kind of openness would help them,” Podvig said.
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