How Russia is Helping North Korea Build the Bombs that Could Start World War III

How Russia is Helping North Korea Build the Bombs that Could Start World War III, Newsweek, December 28, 2017

But the greatest evidence of this Russian-North Korean collaboration is reportedly the similarities observed between features in missiles recently tested by Pyongyang and Soviet-era designs. In June 2016, for example, North Korea tested the Hwasong-10, or Musudan, an intermediate-range ballistic missile, which apparently had distinct similarities to the R-27 Zyb, or Ripple, manufactured by the Makeyev Rocket Design Bureau––including using the same engine. Subsequently, in August 2016, North Korea tested a submarine-launched missile that also had similar features to the Ripple––the Pukguksong-1. Joshua Pollack, an analyst at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, told The Washington Post both of these North Korean missiles are “generally regarded as derived from the designs of the Makeyev Bureau’s R-27.”

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Some of the more advanced missile technology recently put on display for the wider world by North Korea was acquired by the rogue state with the help of Russia, according to new documents acquired by The Washington Post from one of the top Soviet-era missile manufacturers.

In the early 1990s, after the fall of the Soviet Union, U.S. investors reportedly attempted to work with Russian scientists, who were largely unemployed and desperate for money, to acquire advanced Soviet military technology. But the investors ran into a number of legal hurdles, which reportedly provided an opportunity for North Korea to swoop in. Pyongyang was apparently willing to pay some of the scientists, who previously worked for Makeyev Rocket Design Bureau, more than 200 times what they made at home to provide it with Soviet missile designs.

In some cases, some of these Russian scientists were prevented from going to North Korea to provide it with Soviet military technology. But U.S. and South Korean intelligence officials have confirmed that Makeyev scientists ultimately did indeed obtain employment as consultants to North Korea, The Washington Post reported.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attends a Hwasong-10 missile test at an undisclosed location in North Korea on June 13, 2016. GETTY IMAGES

But the greatest evidence of this Russian-North Korean collaboration is reportedly the similarities observed between features in missiles recently tested by Pyongyang and Soviet-era designs. In June 2016, for example, North Korea tested the Hwasong-10, or Musudan, an intermediate-range ballistic missile, which apparently had distinct similarities to the R-27 Zyb, or Ripple, manufactured by the Makeyev Rocket Design Bureau––including using the same engine. Subsequently, in August 2016, North Korea tested a submarine-launched missile that also had similar features to the Ripple––the Pukguksong-1. Joshua Pollack, an analyst at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, told The Washington Post both of these North Korean missiles are “generally regarded as derived from the designs of the Makeyev Bureau’s R-27.”

In 2017, North Korea has made major leaps in its missile technology. The reclusive nation tested its most powerful intercontinental ballistic missile yet in late November, which reached an altitude of 2,800 miles (over 10 times higher than the International Space Station) and traveled for 50 minutes before crashing into the Sea of Japan. The more advanced missile technology Pyongyang has put on display over the course of the year could be a sign it has more access to Soviet-era designs and blueprints than previously thought, according to The Washington Post report.

This photo taken on November 28, 2017 and released on November 29, 2017 by North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un signing an order document of a test-fire of an intercontinental ballistic missile, the Hwasong-15. GETTY IMAGES

North Korea’s missile tests and pursuit of a nuclear weapon capable of reaching the United States have led to major tensions across the world over the course of the year. As the United Nations has sought to pressure North Korea to give up on its nuclear ambitions via harsh economic sanctions, President Donald Trump has issued boisterous threats toward Kim Jong Un’s regime––leading some to fear war is on the horizon. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee and often plays golf with the president, recently said there’s a 30 percent chance Trump takes military action against North Korea. A strike would have an array of consequences and would almost undoubtedly lead to a response, in some capacity, from China and Russia, who both share a border with North Korea.

North Korea is believed to have as many as 60 nuclear weapons. If war broke out, it could potentially use them on South Korea or Japan and millions could die. A November report from the Congressional Research Service concluded a conflict between the U.S. and North Korea would lead to roughly 300,000 deaths in the first few days alone, even without the use of nuclear weapons.

Explore posts in the same categories: North Korean missiles, North Korean nukes, Russia and North Korea, Russian missile technology

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