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Claims that the LPE is a North Korean product would be more believable if the country’s experts had in the recent past developed and tested a series of smaller, less powerful engines, but there are no reports of such activities. Indeed, prior to the Hwasong-12 and -14 flights, every liquid-fueled missile launched by North Korea – all of the Scuds and Nodongs, even the Musudan – was powered by an engine developed and originally produced by the Russian enterprise named for A.M. Isayev; the Scud, Nodong and R-27 (from which the Musudan is derived) missiles were designed and originally produced by the Russian concern named after V.P. Makeyev. It is, therefore, far more likely that the Hwasong-12 and -14 are powered by an LPE imported from an established missile power.
If this engine was imported, most potential sources can be eliminated because the external features, propellant combination and performance profile of the LPE in question are unique. The engine tested by North Korea does not physically resemble any LPE manufactured by the US, France, China, Japan, India or Iran. Nor do any of these countries produce an engine that uses storable propellants and generates the thrust delivered by the Hwasong-12 and -14 LPE. This leaves the former Soviet Union as the most likely source.
This leaves the former Soviet Union as the most likely source