August 15, 2017
The article “The secret of the North Korea’s ICBM success” by the International Institute for Strategic Studies as well as the article “North Korea’s Missile Success is linked to Ukrainian Plant, investigators say” by The New York Times unjustifiably besmirch Ukrainian companies Yuzhnoye State Design Office and Yuzhmash Production Association by linking them to the latest successful testing of the North Korean intercontinental ballistic missiles. It should be noted that the author of the first article is Michael Elleman, a missile expert at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, while in the second article he is repeatedly referred to as an expert and the information source.
Yuzhnoye and Yuzhmash like the entire international community express serious concerns about the steady growth of the North Korean potential in the area of intercontinental ballistic missile systems. At the same time Yuzhnoye and Yuzhmash, being the recognized experts in space technologies, point out that such rapid development of missile technologies would not have been possible without a foreign support.
The authors and so-called “experts” in the aforesaid articles come up with the unfounded conclusions that the source for such technologies could be Ukraine. Hereby, Yuzhnoye and Yuzhmash strongly deny these false statements and inform of the following:
1. Images and characteristics of the North Korean engines, the authors are referring to in their speculations, clearly show they are not the RD-250 engines at all.
2. The authors of The New York Times article confirm that the RD-250 was developed in Russia and quote a concrete name of the engine Developer company. However, for some reason they make a bold assertion that the technology leak came from Ukraine. Indeed, the developer of the RD-250 engine is Russian Energomash SPA. Yuzhnoye had never developed similar engines using hypergolic propellants and open-cycle scheme. After completion of the design and development efforts the RD-250 engine was transferred to Yuzhmash for serial production. During manufacture of the RD-250 engine, no single deviation from the design documentation could be made without coordinating it with the engine developer – Energomash SPA.
3. After becoming an independent state, Ukraine was no longer producing any missiles neither for Russian Federation, nor for its own needs or for any other country. Starting from 1991 the process lines at Yuzhmash plant for manufacturing engines with characteristics similar to the RD-250 were partially dismantled. The production line for the manufacture of SS-18 ballistic missiles and their engines was completely destroyed. On this account the Yuzhmash plant has no production capacity now to manufacture rocket engines of the mentioned configuration.
4. In regards to the references of the article authors about the Ukrainian space industry critical dependence on Russian orders, Yuzhnoye insists hereby that Moscow had never approached Yuzhnoye with requests to develop new modifications of SS-18 missiles. And even if they did, Ukraine would never have complied with such requests following its international commitments.
5. All engines qualified for the flight application, including the RD-250, were shipped from Yuzhmash plant only after they were mounted on the rockets in- house. The only engine that was ever delivered by Yuzhmash as a stand-alone component was the VG143 for the fourth stage of the European Vega launch vehicle.
6. According to Michael Elleman, he made numerous tours to Yuzhnoye and Yuzhmash ten years ago, and for some reasons he failed or did not want to point out tight military security guard around the companies territory. This fact combined with Ukraine commitments of a member to the Missile Technology Control Regime prove that we fully comply with MTCR provisions and any unauthorized technology transfer is absolutely ruled out. Also, contrary to the speculations in the articles, the Government Authorities of Ukraine exercise an overall monitoring of the national rocket and space industry. Apprehension and arrest of the North Korean spies in Ukraine is another proof of the fact that that the space technology in our country is reliably protected.
7. Michael Elleman assumes that the RD-250 engine technology transfer to North Korea was performed within the recent two years. Indeed, any specialist in rocket engines having expertise in practical implementation of projects would confirm that developing an engine over two years term without technology transfer is impossible. Moreover, authors of the aforesaid articles never asked: “Where did the propellants (UDMH and NT) come from for the development testing and operation of the engine?” It is well known that these propellants are not produced in Ukraine and had never been. One more technical contradiction to question the credibility of the expert assumptions made in the mentioned articles.
8. Another statement from The New York Times article, doubting professionalism of its experts, asserts that the engines for missiles launched from a submarine are far more complex than those for the ground-stationed systems. It is not clear how this thesis can serve for making conclusions about the technology transfer being made by Ukraine. At the same time, the authors of the above-mentioned articles acknowledge that some engine production technologies for the sea-based missiles were already transferred to North Korea by Russia.
9. In his IISS article, Michael Elleman supports his speculations about the likely technology transfer to North Korea by the fact that in 2016 Yuzhnoye experienced serious financial difficulties. Such statement information is false as since over the last ten years Yuzhnoye has been steadily building up its financial strength and expanding international cooperation in the area of peaceful space exploration. This information is provided at Yuzhnoye’s web-site.
Unfortunately, rhetoric of the article authors and the “experts” about post-revolutionary chaos in Ukraine is very similar to the numerous lies and fakes widely spread today by the majority of Russian mass media about Ukraine. Such publications can distract attention of community and political leaders away from real problems and result in fatal consequences. Yuzhnoye and Yuzhmash express serious concerns over the fact that The New York Times, being one of the most reputable information sources not only in the US but worldwide, publishes its analytical materials based on the conclusions of the doubtful experts and representatives of the so-called “American Intelligence Agencies”. Yuzhnoye and Yuzhmash recognize an importance of the problem related to the development of North Korean rocket technologies and believe that analysis of the situation should be made by professionals.