In 1991, the Soviet Union collapsed into fifteen separate countries to the amazement of the world. Most major Russian companies came into the hands of private investors who got incredibly rich and powerful afterward, whilst one of the crown jewels of the Kremlin’s strategic arsenal was to be sold by a group of American and Russian investors: the family of missiles designed for launch from a submarine.
The powerful rockets named “Calm” and “Ripple,” could be rolled right out of a ship and then fired out of the water. Countries all over the world wanted to acquire these weapons. The US partners wanting to set up the joint-venture with the Russian company called Makeyev that developed it, quickly stumbled on a series of legal setbacks, forbidding them to sell Russian armament to third world countries, so the Russians went at it alone.
They quickly found a new partner interested in the technology and willing to pay top dollar for it: North Korea.
Having seen the recent North Korean missile launches, Mr David Wright, a missiles expert at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said: “The question that has long been raised is: Did North Korea get this technology from a Russian fire sale?”
“Did they get plans years ago and are just now at the point where they can build these things?”
The Russian Makeyev Rocket Design Bureau operating in the Soviet Union in the 1990s was presenting top-of-the-line missiles able to deliver nuclear warheads. They even had marketing pamphlets for any African or Middle Eastern dictator wanting to expand his arsenal. Some of those designs look quite similar to what the regime of Kim Jung-Un has been shooting recently.
Patiently waiting for its turn to come, North Korea is now in a position to capitalize on the technology it acquired from the Russians, Mr Wright claims.
“North Korea was just recently able to acquire machine tools that were state-of-the-art in the 1990s, meaning they are still damn good machine tools.”
“Once you have the plans, and are able to get your hands on the materials and the right kinds of tools, you have a real leg up.”
According to US military analysts, the most striking similarity between the Russian and North Korean design can be seen if one compares the Hwasong-10, or Musudan, the missile successfully tested by North Korea in June 2016 which uses the same engine and design features as the Soviet Union’s R-27 Zyb, which was a submarine-launched ballistic missile designed by the Makeyev scientists operating in the 1990s.