Yongdeok-dong High-Explosive Test Site

View All North Korea Facilities

Last Updated: July 4, 2012
Other Name: 용덕동고폭실험장; Geumpung-ri High Explosive Test Site (금풍리고폭실험장); Taecheon (태천) High Explosive Test Site; Guseong (구성) High Explosive Test Site; Kwisŏng (귀성) Detonating Test Site
Location: Yongdeok-dong (용덕동), Guseong (구성), North Pyeongan Province (평안북도), North Korea*
Subordinate To: Probably the Fifth Machine Industry Bureau, Second Economic Committee, National Defense Commission; and/or Department No. 32 under the Nuclear Chemical Defense Bureau, Ministry of the People's Armed Forces, National Defense Commission
Size: Since the exact location is not known, there is no size estimation.
Facility Status: Operational [1]

North Korea reportedly conducted more than 70 high-explosive tests between mid-1980s and 1991, [2] and at least three tests between 1997 and 1998. [3] These latter tests are believed to have been performed at the Yongdeok-dong site, with the former done at the Yongbyon site. In November 1998, South Korean press reported that a high explosives test site was confirmed to be in the vicinity of Guseong, where evidence of high explosive tests was captured via satellite. On the site were what appeared to be an assembly plant, a storage facility, and an outdoor test area. Further, the access road to the site was shown to be painted with camouflage paint. [4]

The New York Times reported in July 2003 that the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had found a high-explosive test site in ‘Youngdoktong,’ [5] South Korean officials determined the site to be Yongdeok-dong and stated that this was not new information and that the site had been a suspected high explosives test site since the 1990s. [6] According to a South Korean official, the South Korean government had earlier in February of the same year provided intelligence about the site to the U.S. government, based on North Korean defectors' testimony. [7] A high-level South Korean official further revealed that from 1997 to 2002, North Korea was suspected of having carried out approximately 70 additional tests at the Yongdeok-dong site, [8] and that former President Kim Dae-jung and his administration were aware of it while in office. This revelation led to much criticism of the Sunshine policy that President Kim had instituted upon coming into office in 1998 to promote greater cooperation with North Korea. [9]

*Note: There are numerous reports of high explosive test sites in "Guseong" and "Taecheon" and "Geumpung-ri." However, CNS analysts believe these are mistaken reports that actually refer to a single test site in the area of Yongdeok-dong in the City of Guseong.

Sources:
[1] Lee Woo-seungh, “북 핵시설 현황은 [Current Nuclear Facilities of NK],” Segye Ilbo, 27 March 2011, www.segye.com.
[2] Bermudez, Jr., Joseph S., "Exposing North Korea's Secret Nuclear Infrastructure - Part Two,” Jane's Intelligence Review, Vol. 11, Is. 8, 1 August 1999.
[3] Kwon Soon-hwal, "북 지하시설 3 곳 추가 확인/미, 한국정부에 통고 [3 Addtional Underground Nuclear Sites Discovered],” Donga Ilbo, 26 November 1998, via: www.kinds.or.kr.
[4] Jeong Won-Kyo, "북에 고폭실험장... 수차례 실험/미 첩보위성 확인 [North Korean High Explosives Test Site Confirmed]," Kukmin Ilbo, 23 November 1998, p. 2, via: www.kinds.or.kr.
[5] David E. Sanger, "C.I.A. Said to Find Nuclear Advances by North Koreans," The New York Times, 1 July 2003, p. A1, via: http://web.lexis-nexis.com.
[6] Lee Mi-suk, Kim Kyo-Man, "북 핵실험장 새사실 아니다 [North Korean Nuclear Test Site is Not New]," Munhwa Ilbo, 2 July 2003, via: www.kinds.or.kr.
[7] Kwon Soon-Taek, "핵실험장 발견 경위- 공개 파장 [Nuclear Test Site Discovery]," Donga Ilbo, 3 July 2003, via: www.kinds.or.kr.
[8] Kim Yong-chool, "고국정원장 북 용덕동서 70 여회 고폭실험 [70 High Explosive Tests at Yongdeok-dong],” Segye Ilbo, 10 July 2003, via: www.kinds.or.kr.
[9] Jeong Yeon-Wook, "북 고폭실험 국정원 확인 파문 / 야 북 핵개발에 혈세 퍼준 꼴 [Controversy over Revelation of Confirmation of North Korean High Explosive Tests],” Donga Ilbo, 11 July 2003, via: www.kinds.or.kr.

Country Profile
Flag of North Korea
North Korea

This article provides an overview of North Korea's historical and current policies relating to nuclear, chemical, biological and missile proliferation.

Learn More →

This material is produced independently for NTI by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of and has not been independently verified by NTI or its directors, officers, employees, or agents. Copyright 2017.