Missile experts speculate that North Korea's recent success with its intercontinental ballistic missiles may be attributed to rocket engines purchased on the blackmarket from a Ukrainian factory with historic ties to Russia's missile program, The New York Times reported Monday.
An expert study from the International Institute for Strategic Studies shows that North Korea changed its supplier for missile equipment. Analysts who have studied photos of North Korea's new missiles say their new, powerful missile engines are linked to former Soviet sites, The Times reported. The U.S. government has launched inquiries into a missile factory in Dnipro, Ukraine, according to The Times, where the Soviet Union made its most lethal missiles during the Cold War. Dnipro is near the territory Russia has tried to overtake in a clandestine war with Ukraine.
Missile experts believe that the Dnipro factory is the likely source of the engines that power the intercontinental ballistic missiles believed to be capable of reaching U.S. mainland.
The state-owned Ukrainian factory denied in a press release in early July that it was selling dangerous material abroad.
Last month, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson singled out Russia as an "economic enabler" of North Korea.
"As the principal economic enablers of North Korea’s nuclear weapon and ballistic missile development program, China and Russia bear unique and special responsibility for this growing threat to regional and global stability," Tillerson said in a statement last month.
The White House refused to give The Times a statement on its reporting, marking another opportunity wasted for the Trump administration to rebuke Russia.