The Hwasong-14 is seen in an undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency. Photo: KCNA via Reuters

The mystery over how North Korea obtained powerful rocket engines for its last ICBM test deepened Wednesday after Ukraine’s state space agency said the rocket engine used is the same as the type of engine used by Ukraine-made space vehicles, according to UPI.

UPI was picking up on a report from US government-funded Radio Free Asia which said Ukraine denied supplying the engines to North Korea, raising the possibility Russia might have played a middleman role in delivering the power engines to Pyongyang.

Michael Elleman, a missile expert at the US-based International Institute for Strategic Studies said in a report released earlier this week that data from the North Korean launch suggests that the engines probably came from a Ukrainian factory with historical ties to Russia’s missile program.

The New York Times, citing US investigators, says there’s evidence the engines were purchased on the black market.

Ukraine and Russia have been in a state of heightened military confrontation following Russia’s annexation of Crimea. The US government is backing Ukraine in the conflict.

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