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Yongbyon Nuclear Center may have been damaged by flooding, says 38 North

Yongbyon Nuclear Center may have been damaged by flooding, says 38 North

Posted August. 14, 2020 07:37,   

Updated August. 14, 2020 07:37


The possibility of partial damage to North Korea’s Yongbyon Nuclear Center due to heavy rain has been raised.

“Commercial satellite imagery of the Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center from August 6 reveals significant flooding along the Kuryong River. The August 6 imagery, when compared to imagery from July 22, shows a dramatic rise in the water level of the Kuryong River,” the U.S.-based media dedicated to North Korean matters, 38 North, reported on Wednesday (local time). “The overfall dam that was built to ensure a constant reservoir of water and is available for cooling the reactors was also fully underwater.” 38 North also suspected that the facilities’ power and cooling water supply systems were damaged.

Experts believe that cooling water supply to the 5 MWe Reactor and the Experimental Light Water Reactor (ELWR) is facing issues due to damage to the cooling water supply system. Both facilities have been known to have suspended operating since 2018, but the consistent water flow is necessary for normal operation.

Partial coverage of the area from August 8 and 11 shows the waters have retreated, suggesting that the major facilities within the complex, such as the Uranium Enrichment Plant (UEP), have been spared, said 38 North. It has been reported that the South Korean military has also confirmed partial damage from heavy rain in the Yongbyon Nuclear Center region but no unusual sign in the operation of the nuclear facilities. According to a source, the South Korean intelligence authorities also believe that there is no sign of the 5 MWe Reactor's resumption but the UEP continues to operate.

Kyu-Jin Shin newjin@donga.com