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>> As North Korea threatens the US with potential missile strikes, Reuters intelligence sources revealing yet another worry. Pyongyang likely has the ability to build its own missile engines, no longer depending on other nations for launches such as the one it threatened aimed at the US island of Guam.
National security reporter Jonathan Landay has the story.>> The US assessment basically suggests that the North Koreans are much more advanced in their ability to develop and build missile engines than had previously been determined. That said, the United States in January 2016, sanctioned several Iranian firms for helping the North Koreans develop the engine for the intercontinental ballistic missile.
>> The conclusion reached by intelligence services refers to Pyongyang's high performance, liquid-fueled engines called RD-250s. The assessment contradicting a report by the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies suggesting the engines were being built in Ukraine or Russia and sold to Kim Jong-un's government via the black market which was reported on by the New York Times on Monday.
Ukraine denies it ever supplied defense technology to the North Koreans.>> The IISS study was based on measurements of engines depicted in photographs published by the North Koreans that were both ground tested and flight tested on two new missiles, an intermediate range missile and an ICBM. The IISS study has triggered a vigorous debate among experts who watch North Korea's missile and nuclear programs.
Some of these experts' judgements agree with the US intelligence community's assessment that the North Koreans likely have the ability to develop and build missile engines themselves.>> President Donald Trump on Wednesday hailed a decision by Kim Jong-Un to hold off for now on any missile launch towards Guam.
Trump calling the move very wise and well reasoned, adding that such a launch would have been quote both catastrophic and unacceptable. Despite international condemnation, North Korea is now believed to have as many as 60 nuclear weapons, recently testing a long-range missile capable of reaching as far as Alaska that Pyongyang says could carry a nuclear warhead.