North Korea from 30,000 feet | Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists


The first publicly available overhead imagery that suggested North Korea was constructing a new nuclear reactor at its Yongbyon complex appeared on November 4, 2010. Charles L. Pritchard, a former special envoy for negotiations with North Korea and the president of the Korea Economic Institute, along with a delegation from the institute provided the first confirmation of this construction after a visit to Yongbyon that week. The following week, Yongbyon officials told PDF Stanford University’s John W. Lewis and two authors of this article (Hecker and Carlin) that the reactor was designed to be an experimental pressurized light water reactor (100 megawatts thermal, or 25-30 megawatts electric) to be fueled with low-enriched uranium fuel produced in a newly constructed centrifuge plant at the nearby Yongbyon fuel fabrication plant. The new reactor is being constructed on the former site of a cooling tower for a now-disabled, 5-megawatt electric, gas-cooled, graphite-moderated reactor that had been used to produce plutonium; the tower was demolished in 2008 as a step toward an eventual denuclearization agreement.
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