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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, and Russian President Vladimir Putin may be growing closer. (Kim photo by KCNA/Reuters, Putin photo by Reuters)

Putin's shadow lurks behind North Korean missile program

US-Russia rift only growing amid claim Soviet engines power Pyongyang's rockets

TAKAYUKI TANAKA, Nikkei staff writer | North Korea

MOSCOW -- A recent theory that the intercontinental ballistic missiles North Korea tested in July were built using Soviet engines has raised questions over the potential involvement of Russian President Vladimir Putin in Pyongyang's arms development.

The theory was sparked by an August report by Michael Elleman, senior fellow at the U.K.-based International Institute for Strategic Studies. In it, Elleman claimed that North Korea had acquired an improved version of a Soviet liquid-propellant engine produced by Yuzhmash, a state owned manufacturer based in the Ukrainian city of Dnipro.

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