Last Updated: September 30, 2011
Other Name: Undeclared Liquid Waste Storage Site
Location: Approximately 150 meters to 300 meters southeast of the Radiochemistry Laboratory, in Bungang-jigu (분강지구), Yongbyon-gun (영변군), North Pyeongan Province (평안북도), North Korea
Subordinate To: Probably the Yongbyon Nuclear Research Center (영변원자력연구센터), General Department of Atomic Energy (원자력총국), Cabinet (내각)
Size: A two-story building, about 18 meters high, 24 meters wide and about 50 to 67 meters long
Facility Status: Unknown

Located about 300 meters from the reprocessing building, construction of Building 500 was completed sometime between the late 1980s and early 1990s. Satellite photos taken during its years of construction showed a two-story building, with a thick slab of concrete separating the floors. After the construction was completed, dirt was pushed up around the first floor, making the building appear as a one-story structure with a hidden basement. [1] The first floor – the basement – of the building has four large compartments for liquid waste storage tanks and six smaller compartments for storage of containerized solid wastes. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) suspects the basement contains waste from reprocessing campaigns carried out in the Radiochemistry Laboratory. [2]

In late 1991, satellite photos showed trenches being dug between Building 500 and the Radiochemistry Laboratory. They were suspected to be for pipes for transferring liquid nuclear waste. By the time IAEA inspectors were on site for its third ad hoc inspection conducted in September 1992, all external traces of the trenches were gone. [3] When the IAEA inspectors visited the "new" ground level of the facility, North Korean officials denied the existence of a basement, stating that it was a workshop for military vehicles. [4]

In February 1993, the IAEA passed a resolution requesting a special inspection of Building 500 and the Undeclared Waste Storage Facility, also located in Yongbyon, [5] North Korea refused the IAEA's request for the inspections, insisting that both were military facilities not related to their nuclear program. [6] North Korea subsequently declared its intention to withdraw from the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) on 12 March 1993, [7] but suspended its withdrawal in June 1993. North Korea has consistently refused IAEA requests to inspect this waste site.

Sources:
[1] David Albright and Corey Hinderstein, "Evidence of Camouflaging of Suspect Nuclear Waste Sites," in David Albright and Kevin O'Neill, eds., Solving the North Korean Nuclear Puzzle (Washington, D.C.: Institute for Science and International Security, 2000), pp. 102-104.
[2] David Albright, "North Korea Drops Out," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, May 1993, www.thebulletin.org.
[3] David Albright and Corey Hinderstein, "Evidence of Camouflaging of Suspect Nuclear Waste Sites," in David Albright and Kevin O'Neill, eds., Solving the North Korean Nuclear Puzzle (Washington, D.C.: Institute for Science and International Security, 2000), pp. 102-104.
[4] David Albright, "How Much Plutonium Did North Korea Produce?" in David Albright and Kevin O'Neill, eds., Solving the North Korean Nuclear Puzzle (Washington, D.C.: Institute for Science and International Security, 2000), pp. 152-153.
[5] Cheong Tong-U, "미신고 두곳 : 사찰받을까 / 북핵협상 전망 [Inspection of 2 Undeclared Sites]," Donga Ilbo, 6 January 1994, p. 4, in KINDS, www.kinds.or.kr.
[6] "특별 사찰실시/북한, 공식거부 [North Korea Officially Rejects Request for Special Inspection]," Segye Ilbo, 24 February 1993, p. 1, in KINDS, www.kinds.or.kr.
[7] Larry A. Niksch, "North Korea's Nuclear Weapons Program," Congressional Research Service, 5 October 2006.

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