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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Mt. Chun-ma [Pegasus]

On 05 February 2002 Reps. Christopher Cox (R, CA), Edward Markey (D, MA) and Ben Gilman (R, NY) cited reports that North Korea had been operating a secret uranium processing site that might either help in making illicit fuel for a covert weapon production reactor, or for the enrichment of uranium to weapons grade. Although not mentioned by name in this letter to the President, other reports suggested that this was in reference to a deep underground uranium processing plant at Mount Chun-Ma [Ch'unma = Pegasus]. Defectors had suggested that the facility had been in operation since 1989. Uranium ore was said to be trucked in and what's produced is helicoptered out.

The letter which Congressman Cox, Gilman and Markey sent on 31 May 2002 to the administration stated that " ... recent reports that North Korea is currently operating a covert uranium processing facility should raise U.S. concerns that North Korea is continuing to operate a covert nuclear weapons program contrary to the intent of the agreed framework."

And at a news conference on 17 October 2002 Rep. Markey stated that "We've had some difficulty up until now in having the administration respond to what we felt were already established facts. We know that the Koreans use Mount Chunma as a secret uranium enrichment facility."

In 1999 the Clinton Administration dispatched US experts to visit just one of the dozen suspect sites that the intelligence community had identified as potentially associated with clandestine nuclear weapons activities. The Kumchang-ni site was visitied and found to be empty. Mt. Chun-Ma is located about 30 kilometers from Kumchang-ni. While the Mount Chun Ma facility was on the list of the dozen suspect sites, it was not inspected.

The primary source of information on the Chun Ma facility is an article in the August 2001 edition of the South Korean magazine Shin Dong-A. The article claims to be based on a Chinese intelligence report obtained by the Korean Central Intelligence Agency. The Chinese report was based on claims made by Choon Sun Lee, a senior North Korean military official who had escaped from North Korea to China in 1999. Choon was subsequently repatriated to North Korea, where he was presumably executed.

Choon claimed that North Korea had been operating a clandestine uranium processing site underneath Mt. Chun-Ma since 1989. A large tunnel extends about 2.5 kilometers into the mountain, makes a right turn and extends another kilometer. The primary underground facility consists of a number of large chambers. Some analysts suspect the facility may be used for processing uranium ore into yellowcake, possibly a backup to acknowledged North Korea acknowledged uranium processing facilities at Pakchon and Pyongsan. The report claims that the uranium ore is hauled in by trucks, and that the product is transported by helicopter to an underground facility in a valley called Pyung-An-Nam An-do Joo-si Gyo-Chang-do (translator's transliteration).

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CIA Map of East Asia centered on North Korea

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Page last modified: 24-07-2011 04:38:14 ZULU