Nuclear Chemical Defense Bureau

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Last Updated: March 1, 2003
Other Name: 핵화학방위국; Chemical Bureau (화학국); Nuclear-Chemical Defense Bureau
Location: Ministry of People's Armed Forces Building Number Eight (인민무력부 8호청사), Changsan-dong (장상동), Sŏsŏng-kuyŏk (서성구역), Pyongyang (평양시), North Korea
Subordinate To: General Staff Department (인민군창참모부), Ministry of People's Armed Forces (인민무력부)
Size: About 4,500-5,000 personnel
Facility Status: Unknown

The Nuclear Chemical Defense Bureau was originally founded as the "Chemical Department (화학부)" in 1954 and was placed under the General Staff Department. The Chemical Department was renamed the "Chemical Bureau (화학국)" in 1961. At that time, chemical warfare units, the No. 398 Research Institute, the No. 279 Factory, and the Maram Materials Corporation were all placed under the jurisdiction of the Chemical Bureau. In 1980, the Chemical Bureau was renamed as the Nuclear Chemical Defense Bureau. Prior to 1980, North Korea's chemical warfare units reportedly were only tasked with defensive measures against chemical and biological attacks. However, after reorganization in 1980, units became capable of launching their own chemical attacks, and they began to adopt defensive measures against nuclear attacks.

There are two active-duty nuclear chemical defense battalions (the 17th and 18th) and six reserve nuclear chemical defense battalions (the 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th, 37th, and 38th) under the Operations Department of the Nuclear Chemical Defense Bureau (NCDB). Four of these reserve units were established in 1992, but it is unclear which exact units were created at that time. In the early to mid-1990s, there were reportedly about 13,000 personnel assigned to North Korean chemical warfare units. The NCDB is also reported to have strong ties with the Academy of Sciences and with Kim Il Sung University.

7 Departments & 3 Research Institutes

  • Operations (작전부), First Department (1부): overall command of chemical warfare operations and chemical warfare battalions
  • Training (훈련부), Second Department (2부): oversight of training for combat units, and management of an officers' training center
  • Engineering (기술부), Third Department (3부): research and development of weapons, and supervision and management of research institutes
  • Equipment (기재부), Fourth Department (4부): production management and control of chemical weapons and antidotes, and developing plans for chemical weapons production, storage, and distribution
  • Reconnaissance (정찰부), Fifth Department (5부): calculation of requirements for decontamination and antidote requirements, and provision of the information to the Operations Department
  • Tunnel and Underground Facility Management (갱도관리부): management of underground tests for nuclear and chemical weapons
  • 55 Research Institute (55연구소), Nuclear and Atomic Defense Laboratory (반핵반원자분석소) [Note: The literal translation of this institute is "anti-nuclear, anti-atomic analytical laboratory."]: runs simulations and calculates the extent of contamination that would result from the use of chemical and nuclear weapons
  • 710 Research Institute (710연구소): research and development of laser weapons

[1] Chang Chun Ik, Pukhan Haek-Missile Chŏnjaeng (Seoul: Sŏmundang, 1999), pp. 358-361, 434.
[2] Sŏn Chong Ku, "Puk Haekhwahakpang'wiguk: Haeksaenghwahangmugi Ch'ongjihwi," Segye Ilbo, 21 May 1997, p. 17, in KINDS,
[3] "Inminmuryŏkpu, Chŏndamguk Sŏlch'i/Haekhwasaengbanjŏnhullyŏn Taep'ok Kanghwa," Segye Ilbo, 15 June 1994, p. 8, in KINDS,
[4] Shin Chong Su, "'Puk Maengdokhwahangmugi Namhansŏmbyŏl Kanŭng'/Kwisunyongsa Lee Ch'ung Kuk Ssi Hoe'gyŏn," Kukmin Ilbo, 23 March 1994, p. 18, in KINDS,
[5] Ch'oe Yŏng Jae, "Mi'gug'ŭi Pukhan Saenghwahangmu'gi Appak Chŏllyak," Shindonga, January 2002,
[6] Ch'oe Yong-chae, Shindonga, January 2002, pp. 300-313, in "US Strategy Pressuring DPRK on Biological, Chemical Weapon," FBIS Document ID: KPP20011220000016.

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