The North Korean missile that Russia fired at Ukraine contained American and European components

The North Korean missile that Russia fired at Ukraine contained American and European components

(CNN) — A North Korean ballistic missile launched by the Russian military last month in Ukraine contains hundreds of components that belong to companies in the United States and Europe, a new report shows.

The findings represent the first public identification of North Korea's reliance on foreign technology for its missile program and highlight an ongoing problem facing the Biden administration as it seeks to prevent cheap, Western-made microelectronics destined for civilian use from ending up in weapons used by North Korea. Iran and Russia.

British research organization Conflict Armament Research (CAR) examined 290 components of North Korean ballistic missile debris recovered in January in Kharkiv, Ukraine, and found that 75% of the components were designed and sold by companies registered in the United States. United, according to the report first shared with CNN.

Another 16% of the components in the missile were linked to companies registered in Europe, according to investigators, and 9% to companies registered in Asia. These components primarily make up the missile's navigation system and can be traced to 26 companies based in the United States, China, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Singapore, Switzerland and Taiwan, according to the report.

Last year, as CNN previously reported, CAR found that 82% of the components of Iranian-made attack drones launched by Russia inside Ukraine were made by American companies.

Besides sweeping sanctions and export controls aimed at limiting access to Western-made technology, the Biden administration also established an expanded working group in late 2022 to investigate how American and Western components, including American-made microelectronics, reach Iran. Drones launched by Russia were made in the hundreds in Ukraine.

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The National Security Council did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Avoid 20 years of sanctions

The recent report by the Conflict Armament Research Foundation does not mention the specific companies that made the components, because there is no evidence that the companies intentionally shipped the parts to North Korea; Instead, components are likely to be diverted somewhere in the vast global supply chain once companies sell them to various international distributors. Therefore, CAR prefers to work with companies to try to solve the problem rather than single it out and shame it, a CAR spokesperson told CNN.

Rocket parts

The rear portion of the ballistic missile examined by the Conflict Armament Research Group, which includes the missile's navigation system, and the countries of origin of the components, from left to right: China, United States; China, Japan, Netherlands, USA; Germany and Taiwan; United States of America.; Singapore, Switzerland and the United States. Credit: Courtesy of Conflict Armament Research

The investigation also shows that North Korea was able to quickly produce the missile and ship it to Russia. The components examined by investigators were manufactured between 2021 and 2023. Based on these production dates, investigators say the missile “could not be assembled before March 2023” and Russia was using it in Ukraine in January.

The fact that North Korea's missile production appears to be sourced from parts of the West underscores how difficult it is for the United States and its allies to control the fate of commercial electronics, especially semiconductor components, which are extremely difficult to trace once they enter the world. Suppliers.

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The findings indicate that North Korea “has developed a robust procurement network capable of evading sanctions regimes in place for nearly two decades without being detected,” the Africa Armament Research Foundation report notes.

While Russia continues to receive supplies from North Korea and Iran, the Biden administration has been unable to send new weapons and equipment to the Ukrainian military because Congress has not approved the additional funding needed to do so.

More evidence of relations between Russia and North Korea

The White House confirmed last month that Russia had fired North Korean missiles at Ukrainian cities. According to a report released last week by the Pentagon's inspector general, North Korea likely supplied Russia with “millions of artillery shells” over the past year.

CNN previously reported that intelligence services in Washington are increasingly concerned about the growing ties between North Korea and Russia, and the long-term ramifications of what appears to be a new level of strategic partnership between the two countries.

The Conflict Armament Research Foundation said its examination of the North Korean missile “shows that North Korea was capable of producing advanced weapons and integrating components that were produced as recently as 2023, despite… Penalties From the United Nations Security Council in place since 2006 that prohibits the production of ballistic missiles by North Korea.

Russia's use of North Korean missiles on the Ukrainian battlefield may also provide Pyongyang with data it cannot obtain from a testing program that has seen dozens of such weapons launched in recent years under Kim's leadership.

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A Security Council spokesman said last month that North Korea may also seek military aid from Russia, including “combat aircraft, surface-to-air missiles, armored vehicles, ballistic missile production equipment, military hardware and other advanced technologies.” John Kirby.

“This will have worrying security implications for the Korean Peninsula and the Indo-Pacific region,” he added.

Aygen Marsh

"Certified introvert. Extreme coffee specialist. Total zombie defender. Booze fanatic. Web geek."

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