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MGC-20 Cyclotron

  • Location
    Sosan-dong (서산동), Sosong-guyok (서성구역), Pyongyang (평양시), Pyongyang, North Korea*
  • Type
    Nuclear-Research and Development
  • Facility Status

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The MGC-20 cyclotron in Pyongyang was provided and installed with the cooperation of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The IAEA approved this project in 1983 and the cyclotron was ordered from the Soviet Union in 1985. North Korea began construction of a building for the cyclotron in 1987, and completed the construction in July 1990. 1 The delivery of the cyclotron’s main parts took place during 1989-1990. The MGC-20 cyclotron was manufactured by the D. Efremov Scientific Institute of Electrophysical Apparatus in St. Petersburg, Russia. 2 Funding for the cyclotron project was provided by the IAEA, the United States, and the North Korean government, and the facility was commissioned in April 1992. 3 The MGC-20 cyclotron produces radioisotopes such as iodine-123 and technetium-99m for use in nuclear medicine and biology. The cyclotron is also used to analyze the characteristics of carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, and to conduct experiments, as well as to train students. IAEA experts made several trips to North Korea to advise their counterparts on the engineering design of the cyclotron, and on building requirements. The IAEA sponsored travel for five North Koreans to visit Eastern Europe during 1986-1987 in order to receive technical training in radioisotopes and in cyclotron operations. Charged particle activation analyses were conducted at the facility with IAEA technical cooperation under “Project DRK/4/004.” The facility was also used “to perform proton-induced X-ray emission (PIXE) analysis for human hair, blood and minerals” under this project. This cyclotron has probably not contributed to nuclear weapons development.

*Note: The cyclotron was reportedly installed in the “Sosan area, in Mangyongdae-guyok (만경대구역) about eight kilometers west of the center of Pyongyang.” However, Sosan-dong is in Sosong-guyok (서성구역).


International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
IAEA: Founded in 1957 and based in Vienna, Austria, the IAEA is an autonomous international organization in the United Nations system. The Agency’s mandate is the promotion of peaceful uses of nuclear energy, technical assistance in this area, and verification that nuclear materials and technology stay in peaceful use. Article III of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) requires non-nuclear weapon states party to the NPT to accept safeguards administered by the IAEA. The IAEA consists of three principal organs: the General Conference (of member states); the Board of Governors; and the Secretariat. For additional information, see the IAEA.
Radioisotope: An unstable isotope of an element that decays or disintegrates spontaneously, emitting energy (radiation). Approximately 5,000 natural and artificial radioisotopes have been identified. Some radioisotopes, such as Molybdenum-99, are used for medical applications, such as diagnostics. These isotopes are created by the irradiation of targets in research reactors.


  1. “The Agency’s Technical Co-operation Activities in 1992,” International Atomic Energy Agency, 31 December 1992, p.112, www.iaea.org.
  2. “D.V. Efremov Scientific Institute of Electrophysical Apparatus,” International Atomic Energy Agency, Department of Technical Cooperation, www.tc.iaea.org.
  3. Jang In-soon, “북핵기술총서 North Korean Nuclear Issues and the LWR Project,” Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute, March 2002.


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