MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Some country might have been able to copy the designs of missile engines developed by Ukraine's Yuzhnoye State Design Office, but nobody among its staff helped North Korea acquire such engines, Degtyarev said Tuesday, following reports that Pyongyang's success in ballistic missiles tests might be linked to Yuzhnoe rocket engines.
The article, citing the study by Michael Elleman, senior fellow for missile defense with the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) think tank, claimed that the engines for North Korean missiles likely came from Ukraine, "probably illicitly."
"I am certain that none of our colleagues were involved in helping to build an engine for North Korean missiles. But our engines are highly valued and used around the world… Perhaps, someone was able to make some copies somewhere," Degtyarev told Strana.ua outlet.
Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council Secretary Oleksandr Turchynov also said on Monday that Ukraine defense and aerospace companies did not supply any weapons or military technologies to North Korea.
The IISS study did not claim that Yuzhnoe leadership or the Ukrainian government were directly involved in any such acquisition. However, it suggested that workers at the company's facilities in Ukraine's Dnipropetrovsk and Pavlograd, feeling the brunt of economic crisis, might be "susceptible to exploitation by unscrupulous traders, arms dealers and transnational criminals operating in Russia, Ukraine and elsewhere."
Tensions around Pyongyang's missile program have flared up in the recent weeks, following the adoption of the UN Security Council sanctions, which led to North Korea trading threats and warnings with the United States. Most notably, Pyongyang said it might consider an attack on the area near the US territory of Guam in the Western Pacific.