The Wall Street Journal: North Korea may have acquired better rocket engines through Russia or Ukraine, experts say

WASHINGTON — The rapid advance of North Korea’s intercontinental ballistic missile program has prompted questions about whether Kim Jong Un’s regime obtained Soviet-designed rocket engines illicitly from Ukraine or Russia.

The liquid-propellant rocket engines North Korea has been using in recent tests resemble the RD-250 and were probably acquired through illicit channels originating in Ukraine or Russia, where the complex rocket engine was designed, a report from the International Institute for Strategic Studies said Monday.

Michael Elleman, author of the report, said the single combustion-chamber version of the RD-250 rocket engine that resembles what the North Koreans are testing likely traces back to Ukraine’s Yuzhnoye State Design Office or Russia’s Energomash, two state defense companies involved in designing the engine in the past.

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