Monday, August 14, 2017

Maidan Blowback: North Korea's ICBMs

UPDATE: In a post today, "Hyping North Korea To Relaunch Reagan's Star Wars?," Moon of Alabama denies the veracity of the entire NYT story:
One missile defense marketing pundit claimed today that the North Korean missile engines used in the recent tests were bought from factories in Ukraine or Russia. The usual propagandist at the New York Times picked up on that to further their anti-Russian theme:
"Mr. Elleman was unable to rule out the possibility that a large Russian missile enterprise, Energomash, which has strong ties to the Ukrainian complex, had a role in the transfer of the RD-250 engine technology to North Korea. He said leftover RD-250 engines might also be stored in Russian warehouses."
But the engines in question are of different size and thrust than the alleged R-250 engines and the claimed time-frame does not fit at all. The Ukrainian government denied any transfer of missiles or designs. The story was debunked with in hours by two prominent experts. But implicating Russia, however farfetched, is always good if one wants to sell more weapons.

The New York Times is one of the chief purveyors of Russophobia. Usually the newspaper's anti-Russia propaganda, at first glance at least, appears plausible. But that's not the case with this morning's offering by William Broad and David Sanger, "North Korea’s Missile Success Is Linked to Ukrainian Plant, Investigators Say."

The story, based on a new study by an International Institute for Strategic Studies missile expert, is that North Korea's recent ICBM success is due to the acquisition of Russian-designed engines, RD-250s, from a plant, Yuzhmash, in Dnipro, Ukraine. As Broad and Sanger explain:
Analysts who studied photographs of the North’s leader, Kim Jong-un, inspecting the new rocket motors concluded that they derive from designs that once powered the Soviet Union’s missile fleet. The engines were so powerful that a single missile could hurl 10 thermonuclear warheads between continents.
Those engines were linked to only a few former Soviet sites. Government investigators and experts have focused their inquiries on a missile factory in Dnipro, Ukraine, on the edge of the territory where Russia is fighting a low-level war to break off part of Ukraine. During the Cold War, the factory made the deadliest missiles in the Soviet arsenal, including the giant SS-18. It remained one of Russia’s primary producers of missiles even after Ukraine gained independence.
But since Ukraine’s pro-Russian president, Viktor Yanukovych, was removed from power in 2014, the state-owned factory, known as Yuzhmash, has fallen on hard times. The Russians canceled upgrades of their nuclear fleet. The factory is underused, awash in unpaid bills and low morale. Experts believe it is the most likely source of the engines that in July powered the two ICBM tests, which were the first to suggest that North Korea has the range, if not necessarily the accuracy or warhead technology, to threaten American cities.
“It’s likely that these engines came from Ukraine — probably illicitly,” Mr. Elleman said in an interview. “The big question is how many they have and whether the Ukrainians are helping them now. I’m very worried.”
Throughout the story, Broad and Sanger repeatedly try to link the engine transfer, at least rhetorically, to Russia. There is no stronger tell than the highlighted passage above where Dnipro is painted a city on the front lines of the civil war. It is unclear from the sentence which side of the Novorossiya border Dnipro is located.

This is nothing more than crass propaganda. Dnipro has always remained loyal to the coup government in Kiev. It removed its Lenin statues and even changed the name of the city, Dnipropetrovsk, to comply with the 2015 decommunization law. (The city had been named after the Communist leader of Ukraine Grigory Petrovsky.)

If anything this story is your standard tale of CIA blowback. The United States instigated a coup in 2014 and, subsequently, one of its designated rogue nations has a powerful ICBM arsenal to go with its small stockpile of nuclear bombs.

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