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Yongbyon High-Explosive Test Site

  • Location
    Near the banks of the Kuryong River (구룡강), Bungang-jigu (분강지구), Yongbyon-gun (영변군), North Pyeongan Province (평안북도), North Korea
  • Type
  • Facility Status
    Probably unused since the 1990s

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North Korea reportedly conducted more than 70 high explosive tests between 1983 and 1991, in all likelihood, at this site. 1 In late October 1990, U.S. government officials revealed the presence of a high explosive test site in Yongbyon-gun during a briefing to Japanese Foreign Ministry officials in Japan. At the briefing, the U.S. officials presented satellite imagery that showed craters on the sandy banks of the Kuryong River, near the Yongbyon nuclear research facility, which the officials concluded were traces of explosions from high explosive tests. 2 According to a South Korean intelligence source, these test tests were probably for assessing the quality of high explosives, while the more recent rounds of testing at Yongdeok-dong were likely the final tests of a high explosive trigger device for a nuclear weapon. 3


Nuclear weapon
Nuclear weapon: A device that releases nuclear energy in an explosive manner as the result of nuclear chain reactions involving fission, or fission and fusion, of atomic nuclei. Such weapons are also sometimes referred to as atomic bombs (a fission-based weapon); or boosted fission weapons (a fission-based weapon deriving a slightly higher yield from a small fusion reaction); or hydrogen bombs/thermonuclear weapons (a weapon deriving a significant portion of its energy from fusion reactions).


  1. Bermudez, Jr., Joseph S., “Exposing North Korea's secret nuclear infrastructure - Part Two,” Jane's Intelligence Review, Vol. 11, Is. 8, 1 August 1999.
  2. Kang Su-Ung, “북한 영변에 원자로 3기 보유/미, 일본에 브리핑 U.S. Briefing on North Korean Nuclear Complex in Yongbyon,” Taehan Maeil, 22 November 1990, p, 6, via: www.kinds.or.kr.
  3. Seong Dong-Ki, “북한 핵폭탄 1,2개 제조물질 확보 추정 North Korea Suspected to have Nuclear Bomb Material,” Donga Ilbo, 19 December 2001, p. 2, via: www.kinds.or.kr; Kwon Soon-Taek, “NYT 미 북핵실험장소 발견 North Korean Nuclear Test Site Discovered,” Donga Ilbo, 2 July 2003, via: www.kinds.or.kr.


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