Northwest Nuclear Weapons Research and Design Academy

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Last Updated: July 26, 2012
Other Name: Plant No. 221 (221厂); Ninth Academy; Koko Nor Complex; Qinghai Mine; Northwest Nuclear Weapons Design Center; Qinghai Academy; “The Los Alamos of China” [1]
Location: Haiyan, Qinghai Province
Subordinate To: Unknown
Size: 1,170 square km
Facility Status: Decommissioned, converted into tourist attraction

China built the Northwest Nuclear Weapons Research and Design Academy in the early 1960s based on Soviet plans. [2] The academy was the site of much of China’s early weapons design work, including the development of China’s first atom bomb and first hydrogen bomb. It had sites for “high explosive and fissile component production, general component (cases, electrical systems) production, final weapons assembly, HE component testing, and environment testing.” [3] It was also the earliest site for centralized storage of nuclear weapons. [4]

In 1987, China decided to decommission the site, with all capacities transferred to the Chinese Academy of Engineering Physics (CAEP) in Mianyang. In 1995 control of the land and equipment was transferred to the Qinghai Provincial People’s Government, under the new name of Xihai town. [5] The site is currently open as a tourist site called the “Atomic City,” and was designated a National Patriotism Education Base to commemorate China’s efforts and accomplishments in developing the atomic bomb. [6]

Sources:
[1] Robert Norris, Andrew S. Burrows and Richard Fieldhouse, Nuclear Weapons Databook, Volume 5 (Boulder: Westview Press, 1994), p. 338.
[2] Yan Kong, “China’s Nuclear Bureaucracy,” Jane’s Intelligence Review, 1 July 1993, p. 324.
[3] U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency, “People’s Republic of China Nuclear Weapons Employment Policy and Strategy,” declassified report, March 1972, via: www.fas.org.
[4] Robert Norris, Andrew S. Burrows and Richard Fieldhouse, Nuclear Weapons Databook, Volume 5 (Boulder: Westview Press, 1994), p. 348.
[5] Shi Yongqing, “原子城大事记 [Atomic City Timeline],” Qinghai News Network, 27 May 2009, www.qhnews.com.
[6] Jeffrey Lewis, “What I Did over Summer Vacation: China's Los Alamos,” Arms Control Wonk, 6 July 2005, http://lewis.armscontrolwonk.com; and “青海原子城国家级爱国主义教育示范基地 [Qinghai Atomic City National Level Patriotism Education Demonstration Base],” www.qhnews.com.

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