Estimation of Uranium Particle Concentration in the Korean Peninsula Caused by North Korea's Uranium Enrichment Facility

북한 우라늄 농축시설로 인한 한반도에서의 공기중 우라늄 입자 농도 예측

  • Kwak, Sung-Woo (Korea Institute of Nuclear Nonproliferation And Control) ;
  • Kang, Han-Byeol (Korea Institute of Nuclear Nonproliferation And Control) ;
  • Shin, Jung-Ki (Korea Institute of Nuclear Nonproliferation And Control) ;
  • Lee, Junghyun (Korea Institute of Nuclear Nonproliferation And Control)
  • Received : 2014.06.13
  • Accepted : 2014.07.30
  • Published : 2014.09.30


North Korea's uranium enrichment facility is a matter of international concern. It is of particular alarming to South Korea with regard to the security and safety of the country. This situation requires continuous monitoring of the DPRK and emergency preparedness on the part of the ROK. To assess the detectability of an undeclared uranium enrichment plant in North Korea, uranium concentrations in the air at both a short and a long distance from the enrichment facility were estimated. $UF_6$ source terms were determined by using existing information on North Korean facility and data from the operation experience of enrichment plants from other countries. Using the calculated source terms, two atmospheric dispersion models (Gaussian Plume Model and HYSPLIT models) and meteorological data were used to estimate the uranium particle concentrations from the Yongbyon enrichment facility. A maximum uranium concentration and its location are dependent upon the meteorological conditions and the height of the UF6 release point. This study showed that the maximum uranium concentration around the enrichment facility was about $1.0{\times}10^{-7}g{\cdot}m^{-3}$. The location of the maximum concentration was within about 0.4 km of the facility. It has been assumed that the uranium sample of about a few micrograms (${\mu}g$) could be obtained; and that few micrograms of uranium can be easily measured with current measurement instruments. On the contrary, a uranium concentration at a distance of more than 100 kilometers from the enrichment facility was estimated to be about $1.0{\times}10^{-13}{\sim}1.0{\times}10^{-15}g{\cdot}m^{-3}$, which is less than back-ground level. Therefore, based on the results of our paper, an air sample taken within the vicinity of the Yongbyon enrichment facility could be used to determine as to whether or not North Korea is carrying out an undeclared nuclear program. However, the air samples taken at a longer distance of a few hundred kilometers would prove difficult in detecting a clandestine nuclear activities.


Supported by : 한국방사선안전재단


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