PSNA Working Paper Series
Methods for Refining Estimates of Cumulative DRPK Uranium Production
By David Von Hippel
This paper summarizes the history of what is known about uranium mining in the DPRK; describes the major uncertainties regarding DPRK uranium production; notes some of the key techniques, as used in preparing estimates of nuclear sector activity in other nations, that might be available to assist in narrowing the range of estimates of DPRK uranium and processed fissile material production; summarizes estimates of enriched uranium and plutonium production prepared by other authors; describes existing estimates of the amounts of fissile materials used in nuclear weapons tests and exported; provides a demonstration of the potential impact of remote sensing methods and testing in the DPRK in reducing uncertainties in cumulative historical uranium production, and thus in fissile materials inventories; and, offers conclusions, resulting from the potential impacts of uncertainty reduction approaches, as to which verification procedures should be key targets during negotiations with the DPRK.
About the Author
Dr. David Von Hippel is a Nautilus Institute Senior Associate based in Eugene, Oregon. His work with Nautilus has centered on energy and environmental issues in Asia, and particularly in Northeast Asia. He has done extensive analyses of the patterns of fuels use and prospects for energy efficiency and energy sector redevelopment in North Korea. Dr. Von Hippel holds M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Energy and Resources from the University of California-Berkeley, and M.A. and B.S. degrees from the University of Oregon.
This study is one of three conducted by APLN-member led cooperation between Asia Pacific Leadership Network, Nautilus Institute, and the Research Center for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons at Nagasaki University. The three organizations have co-published this essay. This report is published under a 4.0 International Creative Commons License the terms of which are found here. It is published also by Nautilus Institute here and the Research Center for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons, Nagasaki University, here.
Image: iStock, RHJ.