Radiochemistry Research Institute

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Last Updated: June 25, 2012
Other Name: 방사화학연구소; Radioactive Chemistry Research Institute; Radiochemistry Institute; Radiochemistry Laboratory; Radiochemical Laboratory; Radiochemistry Laboratory Complex*
Location: Pungang-jigu (분강지구), Yongbyon-gun (영변군), Pyonganbuk-do (평안북도), North Korea
Subordinate To: Yongbyon Nuclear Research Center (영변원자력연구센터), General Department of Atomic Energy (원자력총국), Cabinet (내각)
Size: The institute contains separate laboratories for radiochemistry, photometry, spectroscopy, X-ray analysis, analytical chemistry, radiation measurement, neutron analysis, and other activities.
Facility Status: Unknown

North Korea established the Radiochemistry Institute with Soviet assistance in 1956. The institute focuses on various aspects of fuel fabrication research and reprocessing. According to contracts signed by North Korea and the USSR in accordance with their 1959 agreement on "the peaceful use of atomic energy," the USSR was to provide technical assistance for the establishment of a North Korean nuclear research center. The contracts reportedly included the provision of twenty glove boxes and twenty hot cells for this institute. [1] However, the current status of those glove boxes and hot cells is unknown.

According to Georgiy Kaurov, former head of the Information Directorate of the Soviet Ministry of Atomic Energy, this facility has been able to extract radionuclides from irradiated fuel assemblies, and is able to conduct radiochemical research at the highest level. [2] The Radiochemistry Laboratory, which was revealed to be a reprocessing facility during International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards inspections in 1992, is under this institute. The DPRK ejected three IAEA monitors, who had been at the institution since 2007, from the institution on 16 July 2009, as a reaction to the UN Security Council’s adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1874. [3]

*Note: The Radiochemistry Laboratory, which is a plutonium reprocessing facility, is affiliated with the Radiochemistry Research Institute. The "Radiochemistry Research Institute" and the "Radiochemistry Laboratory" are separate facilities, but many people often confuse the two. Another possibility is that the institute could have been called a "laboratory" when it was founded.

Sources:
[1] Alexander Zhebin, “A Political History of Soviet-North Korean Nuclear Cooperation,” in James Clay Moltz and Alexandre Y. Mansourov, eds., The North Korean Nuclear Program: Security, Strategy, and New Perspectives from Russia (New York: Routledge, 2000), p. 30.
[2] Gregory Karouv, "A Technical History of Soviet-North Korean Nuclear Relations," in James Clay Moltz and Alexandre Y. Mansourov, eds., The North Korean Nuclear Program: Security, Strategy, and New Perspectives from Russia (New York: Routledge, 2000), p. 17.
[3] Ryu Jae-hun, “IAEA요원 북 떠나 핵시설 재가동 임박 [IARA Monitors left the North, Nuclear Facilities Are About to Reactivate],” Hankyoreh, 16 April 2009, www.hani.co.kr.

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