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Yongbyon Nuclear Reactor in North Korea Could Explode Due to Poor Management, Lack of Maintenance
Risk of Explosion
Yongbyon Nuclear Reactor in North Korea Could Explode Due to Poor Management, Lack of Maintenance
  • By matthew
  • February 6, 2014, 07:34
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This screenshot from Google Maps shows how close the Yongbyon Nuclear Reactor is to prominent population centers of Seoul, Beijing, and the Japanese islands.
This screenshot from Google Maps shows how close the Yongbyon Nuclear Reactor is to prominent population centers of Seoul, Beijing, and the Japanese islands.

 

Britain’s defense consulting and analysis company IHS Jane’s warned that the old 5 MW reactor located in Yongbyon, North Korea, could result in an accidental explosion that could affect South Korea and all of Northeast Asia. 

The Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center 5 MWe experimental Magnox reactor in North Korea, in 2008.“Even the old Soviet Union, which had more advanced technology than North Korea does, could not stop the Chernobyl disaster, and we do not trust that the North can control such a potential accident,” HIS Jane’s reported on January 26 (local time), continuing, “It is highly likely that the reactor in Yongbyon will catch fire and, in that case, the fire will not be controlled properly and lead to terrible consequences.” It predicted that the resultant radioactivity could inflict serious damage on entirety of North Korea, Siberia, the northeast region of China, and Seoul. 

Seo Kyun-ryeol, professor at the Department of Nuclear Engineering of Seoul National University, added, “The 5 MW reactor uses an old magnesium-based technique and re-uses an outdated graphite-moderated reaction, which means it is very vulnerable to fire accidents.” All of the nuclear explosion accidents in the past, including those in Chernobyl and the Windscale Nuclear Power Plant in Britain, are attributed to graphite-based reactors. 

“If the reactor is set on fire, the heat and high pressure will cause it to explode and radioactive materials to spread,” Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology Researcher Peter Hayes warned, too. In the meantime, Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper remarked on January 30 in his report submitted to the Senate Intelligence Committee that Pyongyang reactivated the reactor in Yongbyon. The fact of reactivation had been pointed out by National Intelligence Service Director Nam Jae-joon as well in October last year.

A satellite photo of the complex surrounding the Yongbyon Nuclear Reactor. Best-guess locations are labeled.