Ukraine-DPRK missile ties accusations: problem for Kyiv or simply a "bubble"
The report published by The New York Times claiming that the North Koreas’ success in launching intercontinental ballistic missiles was due to the purchase on the black market of engines, possibly coming from the Ukrainian plant, can hardly be called a real accusation. Rather, it's just a hint and poor journalism.
There are five countries that produce nuclear weapons and missiles. And any of them can be accused of the same wrongdoing. So accusing Ukraine of cooperation with the DPRK, while guided by some secondary evidence, is merely unprofessional journalism. Moreover, the reports referred to by the author of the article, in fact, do not indicate that the engines have been supplied by the Ukrainian authorities.
There is a feeling such an information attack wouldn’t be possible without some assistance by Ukraine’s northern neighbor.
If one assumes that this story has any Ukrainian trace to it, this could significantly affect the U.S. stance toward Ukraine.
American experts and specialists dealing with the North Korean crisis can guess where this idea came from and where theoretically such data could be accessed. Ukrainian experts say that, most likely, this was done in the Russian Federation. Therefore, I think the information available to American experts will allow them to draw conclusions where the Koreans have in fact have acquired such technology.
In addition, we are yet to see the official reaction from the White House, the U.S. Department of State and the Pentagon. But I do not think that it will be too rigid toward Ukraine.
Of course, if one assumes that this story has any Ukrainian trace to it, this could significantly affect the U.S. stance toward Ukraine. After all, North Korea is a direct threat to the lives and safety of American citizens and their territory. These are not just indirect threats, they are quite immediate, because that "little fluffy dictator" (though he now seems to have given up the idea of striking Guam) does not rule out such a move.
It is also important to understand, when such technology transfer has taken place (if it actually has). Of course, this did not happen today, it was some time ago. In any case, this could have harsh repercussions for Ukraine. Of course, this does not mean that Kyiv will lose support from the West, but the White House will have to do something if these facts are proven.
This story is rather just a "bubble"
However, I repeat, I think that most likely, those were some unfounded allegations. After all, the United States from the first day of Ukraine's existence was an extremely important partner. In particular, Washington was actively engaged in the build-up of a military export control system. In fact, the Budapest Memorandum was part of the agreements related to the fact that Ukraine would abandon its nuclear arms, join the missile technology non-proliferation regime, and work in this legal field with other countries that are allowed to produce such technology. At the end of the day, it's unlikely that any Ukrainian government could go for compromising this important achievement simply in order to earn some cash.
Ukraine has always been attentive to American interests. Indeed, there have been cases when Ukraine refused to supply conventional weapons or tanks to some country because it contradicted U.S. interests. In other words, Washington would make sure that Kyiv was aware of their opinion, and the Ukrainian side took it into account when making its own decisions. This was the case during the
Kuchma times and during Yushchenko's rule as well. I do not even think that Yanukovych could have managed to do something like that, because he also wished to have a pragmatic relationship with everyone.
We can’t let the Russians spin this trumped up story through its “useful idiots”
It is important that the United States was a significant contributor, which helped Ukraine build up a military export control system that is now working effectively enough.
So, I think that this story is rather just a "bubble." But, of course, Ukraine needs to respond. It is good that the comment of the NSDC secretary has already appeared, and there were other comments as well. That’s because we can’t let the Russians spin this trumped up story through its "useful idiots" or paid journalists.
Oleksandr Khara is a Director of the Department of International Multinational Relations of the "Maidan of Foreign Affairs" Foundation