The wall around the Yuzhmash rocket factory in east Ukraine is in places overgrown with weeds, a sign of hard times at a plant which a new study says could be the source of engines that power North Korean missiles.

Workers at the plant have had their hours cut and wages are in arrears, but Yuzhmash denies the study’s finding that unhappy employees could have been induced to steal engine technology and sell it to illicit arms dealers who passed it on to Pyongyang.

The study by a former U.S. rocket scientist, published by the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), concluded that missile engines used by Pyongyang derive from designs linked to only a few former Soviet factories. It based its findings mainly on photographs taken by North Korea.

A Reuters reporter who visited Yuzhmash in the city of Dnipro this week found staff struggling to make ends meet and facilities falling into disrepair. The only visible security cameras and guards around the plant were at the main entrances.

“At the moment we’re working a one-day week,” said Valery Vasiliev, head of the trade union at Yuzhmash.

Read the whole story from Reuters.

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