Taecheon Underground Suspected Nuclear Facility

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Last Updated: June 1, 2012
Other Name: 태천지하의혹핵시설; Taecheon Suspected Underground Reprocessing Facility; Taecheon Nuclear Facility; Taecheon Nuclear Facility
Location: Cheongye-ri (천계리), Taecheon-gun (태천군), North Pyeongan Province (평안북도), North Korea
Subordinate To: Probably the 5th Machine Industry Bureau (5기계공업총국), Korean Workers Party (조선노동당)
Size: Unknown
Facility Status: Unknown

In October 1998, during a testimony by the South Korean Ministry of Unification, National Assemblyman Kim Deok-ryong of the Grand National Party claimed that North Korea was building an underground nuclear facility in Taecheon-gun, North Pyeongan Province. At the time, however, the South Korean government stated the exact function of the facility had not yet been confirmed, despite extensive efforts by the United States and South Korea. According to Assemblyman Kim, the facility's entrance is located between Dongsan-ri (동산리) and Giyong-ri (기용리) in Guseong (구성시), North Pyeongan Province, and there are three facilities dispersed about three kilometers apart in this area. Kim suggested that North Korea was reprocessing plutonium at this site, but North Korea’s nuclear reactors were shut down at the time. The site has 3,000 volt electrical power lines around the facility and a large number of military troops. [1]

The following month, November 1998, Assemblyman Kim announced that the United States and South Korea had analyzed the soil and water samples from this area, and the samples were found to contain a concentration of uranium that was "tens of times that found in nature." [2] With a uranium milling facility in the area, there is a possibility of a uranium enrichment facility at this site. [3]

[1] “북 인공섬에 지하핵시설 플루토늄 이미 생산돌입 [Plutonium Production has Already Begun at North Korean Underground Nuclear Facility],” Munhwa Ilbo, 23 October 1998, www.munhwa.com.
[2] “북 태천 지하시설서 플루토늄 검출 금창은 아직 공사중 [Plutonium Detected at Taecheon North Korean Underground Nuclear Facility; Keumchang Still Under Construction],” Munhwa Ilbo, 20 November 1998, www.munhwa.com.
[3] “북, 우라늄 농축 선언 / 북 우라늄 농축기술 “상당 수준” “미흡” 엇갈려 [North Korea Announces Uranium Enrichment / Opinions Mixed Regarding North Korea’s Uranium Enrichment Capability],” Donga Ilbo, 15 June 2009, www.donga.com.

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