Ukraine's space agency said Tuesday that an engine type reportedly used in North Korean missiles was made at a Ukrainian factory for Russia.
The development came after an expert report published Monday said Pyongyang's recent rapid progress in developing a long-range missile appeared to have come after it refurbished rocket engines procured from a plant in the former Soviet Union.
These could have been bought from corrupt workers at arsenals in Russia or Ukraine and smuggled to North Korea by criminal networks at some point between the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and Ukraine's current crisis, the International Institute for Strategic Studies said.
"Such engines were made up to 2001 by Ukraine's Yuzhmash (plant),", Ukraine's acting space agency chief Yuriy Radchenko told journalists. He said the engines were used in Cyclone-2 and Cyclone-3 space rockets supplied to Russia.
Both the engines and the space carrier rockets "were made at Yuzhmash in the interests of Russia," Radchenko said. In total, 233 such rockets were produced, used in space launches.
The space agency chief said that according to Ukrainian information, "Russia today has between 7 and 20" of the Cyclone rockets and could do whatever it wanted with the engines and blueprints.
"They have these engines, they have the documentation. They can supply these engines from the finished rockets to whoever they want."
Ukraine did not act as a supplier of the engines to any other country, Radchenko said.
"Ukraine did not carry out any supplies of engines during the whole period of its independence (from the USSR), since it started producing the technology."
Radchenko also said that in his view, it was only possible to use these engines with technology for producing rocket fuel that only Russia and China have at their disposal.
"In order to use these engines and a missile properly, you need to have access to technology to produce rocket fuel. North Korea doesn't have such technology and basically only two countries have this: Russia and China."