Training, Research, Isotope, General Atomics Mark III (TRIGA-Mark III) Research Reactor

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Last Updated: August 1, 2011
Other Name: 연구용 원자로 2호기; KRR-2
Location: Gongneung-dong, Nowon-gu, Seoul (the former location of the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute)
Subordinate To: Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute, Ministry of Science and Technology
Size: 2 MW(th)
Facility Status: Dismantled

The TRIGA-Mark III reactor in Seoul was South Korea's second research reactor and was purchased from General Atomics and General Dynamics. The total reactor cost was $270,000, of which $160,000 was financed through a loan. Construction for the reactor began in April 1969, and was completed on 10 May 1972. The TRIGA-Mark III reached criticality on 10 April 1972. General Atomics provided the 70 percent enriched uranium fuel for the reactor, and the 2 MW(th) reactor was operational for approximately 55,000 hours per year. The main purpose of the research reactor was radioisotope production and neutron studies. [1]

In the early 1980s, South Korean scientists conducted plutonium extraction experiments at the TRIGA III reactor in Seoul in violation of South Korea's nonproliferation commitments. 2.5kg of depleted uranium imported from West Germany in May 1978 was fabricated into five test fuel rods and irradiated at the TRIGA III reactor in 1981. In 1982, 0.7 grams of plutonium comprising 98 percent of fissile PU-239 was extracted in a hot cell. [2] The South Korean Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) stated that the extraction was conducted by "a small group of scientists to analyze the chemical characteristics of plutonium." [3] The experiments were most likely linked to South Korea's long-term desire for an independent fuel-cycle capability.

The TRIGA-Mark III reactor was completely dismantled by 2009. [4]

Sources:
[1] 원자력안전백서 [White Paper for Nuclear Safety], South Korean Ministry of Science and Technology (Seoul: Ministry of Science and Technology, 2002); 전력사업 100년사 [100 Years of Electricity Business History]," Korean Electric Power Corporation, 27 April 2001, www.kepco.co.kr; Ha Young-seon, 한반도의 핵무기와 세계질서 [Nuclear Weapons in Korean Peninsula and World] (Seoul: Nanam, 1991).
[2] Daniel A. Pinkston, "South Korea's Nuclear Experiments," CNS Research Story, 9 November 2004, www.nonproliferation.org; "South Korea Downplays UN Nuclear Report," Joongang Ilbo, 13 November 2004, in Lexis-Nexis, web.lexis-nexis.com.
[3] Anthony Faiola and Dafna Linzer, "S. Korea Admits Extracting Plutonium," Washington Post, 10 September 2004, www.washingtonpost.com.
[4] 원자로 2기 퇴역TRIGA Mark II' 보존 'Mark III' 해체키로 [2 Nuclear reactors are retired /decided to preserve 'TRIGA Mark II,' and to dismantle 'Mark III')," Donga Ilbo, 10 January 1995, p. 17, www.kinds.co.kr; "Research Reactor Details - TRIGA-Mark II-SEOUL," International Atomic Energy Agency Research Reactor Database (RRDB), www.iaea.org; Seo Du-hwan, 연구로 1호 추도문 [Memorial Writing to Korea's First Reactor TRIGA Mark II]," High-Flux Advanced Neutron Application Reactor (HANARO) News Journal, Vol. 3, September 1997, hanaro.kaeri.re.kr; "Current Status of Decommissioning Projects at KAERI," Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute, http://ehome.kaeri.re.kr.

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