Yongbyon 50MWe Nuclear Reactor

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Last Updated: June 14, 2012
Other Name: 50MWe 원자력발전소; Reactor Number Three; Yongbyon No. 3 Machine (영변3호기); the Third Reactor; Reactor No. 3 (제3호원자로); March Enterprise (3월기업소); Reactor No. 2 (원자력발전소 2호기); Yongbyon 50MW Reactor
Location: Bungang-jigu (분강지구), Yongbyon-gun (영변군), Pyeonganbuk-do(평안북도), North Korea
Subordinate To: Yongbyon Nuclear Research Center (영변원자력연구센터), General Department of Atomic Energy (원자력총국), Cabinet (내각)
Size: 50MWe, 200MWth
Facility Status: unfinished, abandoned

North Korea began construction of the 50MWe Nuclear Power Plant in 1985 or 1986, and it was due to be completed in 1995. Similar to the Taecheon 200MWe Nuclear Power Plant, it was modeled after the graphite-moderated, gas-cooled French G-2 reactor [1] and would have been capable of producing about 55kg of plutonium per year. [2] When construction was frozen under the terms of the Agreed Framework of October 1994, it was within a year of completion, according to Pyongyang. [3] Stanford physicist Siegfried Hecker, who visited Yongbyon in November 2010, said the reactor was “being dismantled with large cranes” and, as a senior North Korean technical official put it to him, it was “a ruined concrete structure and iron scrap.”[4]

[1] Siegfried S. Hecker, "Denuclearizing North Korea," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Vol. 64, No. 2, May/June 2008, pp.44-49, 61-62.
[2] The plutonium production capacity is derived under the assumptions that 1MWth-day results in 1g of Pu, and that the reactor would operate at a capacity factor of 75 percent. Therefore, 200 MWth X 365 days X 75% = 54.75kg.
[3] Siegfried S. Hecker, "Denuclearizing North Korea," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Vol. 64, No. 2, May/June 2008, pp.44-49, 61-62.
[4] Siegfried Hecker, "A Return Trip to North Korea's Yongbyon Nuclear Complex," Center for International Security and Cooperation, Stanford University, 20 November 2010, http://iis-db.stanford.edu.

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