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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Hagap Unidentified Underground Facility
Myohyang Mountains

On October 16, 2002 Bush administration officials disclosed that North Korea had admitted to American diplomats that it has been operating a secret nuclear weapons program in violation of the 1994 "agreed framework" between the two countries. The surprise development would appear to put the American-North Korean relationship into a deep freeze. Over the summer of 2002 the US reached these conclusions, and became convinced that the DPRK had this program ongoing for several years. There had been indications and hints, but it was not possible several years ago for the US to reach that conclusion.

The October exchange was prompted by the discovery by US intelligence of North Korean attempts to to acquire large quantities of high-strength aluminum which could be used in centrifuges to enrich uranium. In addition, US intelligence had received reports of significant construction activity that appeared related to a uranium-enrichment facility.

It appeared that North Korea for several years had been trying to enrich uranium, and the only purpose for doing that is to develop nuclear weapons. The State Department argued that this activity is a "serious violation" of the 1994 accord, under which North Korea was to have scrapped its nuclear weapons program, in exchange for Western nuclear power plants and other aid.

Reports that North Korea had built gas centrifuge to produce highly enriched uranium for use in nuclear weapons have been circulating for years though the consensus amoung experts is that such a facility is still two to three years away from being producing HEU. Evidence of attempted aluminum procurement is believed to be a key indicator that a uranium-enrichment program was in development.

As of late 2002 the US Government did not appear to know with certainty where the uranium research and development is taking place. The US evidently determined the North had an HEU weapons program based on intelligence concerning procurement activities, not satellite imagery. US officials initially did not reveal the location of an HEU facility, though previous speculation about uranium enrichment plants had centered on three locations, including the underground facilities at Yongjo-ri / Yongo-dong, about 12 miles from the Chinese border in Yanggang province, as well as a suspected underground facility in Changang province known as Hagap. In March 1999 it was reported that US intelligence believed that North Korea was building four large underground facilities at Chagando, Hagap, Pyonganbukto (between Taechon and Kusong), and Chagando, 10km from the first. It was suspected that the first site at Chagando is used for nuclear testing.

An unidentified underground complex at Hagap was reported on in the press in 1998 citing a classified Defense Intelligence Agency report titled "Outyear Threat Report". The DIA was unable to identify the purpose of the facility but speculated that it could be used for nuclear production and/or storage. The facility, located three miles north of Hyangsan, P'yongan-Pukto Province, consists of three main areas. The operations area is said to have 30 buildings and 5 additional buildings that are under construction. The location is at the foot of the Myohyangsan mountains that has at least four tunnel entrances and 11 support buildings. Reports indicate that four tunnels connect to dozens of building. This facility is said to be unique as it is the only one of several potential nuclear facilities that has been built underground.

According to reports published in mid-August 1998, some 15,000 North Koreans were working on a large-scale tunneling and digging operation into the mountainside about 25 miles northeast of the former nuclear research center at Yongbyon. Some US intelligence analysts were said to believe that the construction is either a nuclear reactor or a reprocessing plant, though the site was two to six years years from completion, and as of August 1998 workers had not begun pouring cement for the foundation of the facility.

Subsequent reports demonstrated that the facility in question is not located at the previously reported "25 miles northeast of .. Yongbyon" but rather at Kumchangni near Sakchu.

The Clinton Administration first briefed a few of Members of Congress on intelligence reports that some type of large-scale digging had begun at the site in the Spring of 1998. European diplomatic sources and some US executive branch officials expressed doubts concerning these reports.Building a nuclear reactor underground is an enormously difficult technical task for any country. Nonproliferation officials in three key US agencies who track clandestine foreign nuclear programs were not apprised of such a development, and one senior US nonproliferation official said that routine intelligence data showed the DPRK was " ... building thousands of tunnels all over the country at any one time, for all kinds of projects, it is possible that somebody in Washington is spin-doctoring information about this kind of activity to project it as a serious nuclear threat."

The reports concerning this project coincided with the inability of the Clinton Administration to win Congressional approval of a request for $35 million to continue providing heavy fuel oil to Pyongyang. The shipments are part of the 1994 Agreed Framework under which north Korea are to be supplied with two modern nuclear reactors to produce electricity, in exchange for halting its own nuclear program. Before Congress recessed, the Senate had approved the administration's request, but the House, where there was opposition to the deal, had not acted.

The Great Leader Kim Il Sung is said to have loved the Myohyang Mountains (mountains of singular fragrance), and the area is is famed as a summer resort. The tallest peak in the Myohyang Mountains is Piro Peak, some 1,909 meters high. The most inportant facility on Mt. Myohyang is the International Friendship Exhibition (IFE), a six-story Korean-style building, which opened in August 1978. The Center contains displays of the more than 2 million gifts which presented to great leader President Kim Il Sung and the respected General Kim Jong Il from party and state leaders, prominent public figures and progressive people of the world. General Secretary Kim Jong Il gave his first on-the-spot guidance to the International Friendship Exhibition on Augsut 25, 1979 and visited it several times later. In October 1996 a two story building dedicated to the Dear Leader Kim Jong Il and the presents given to him was added to the complex.

Until recently only a few foreign tourist came to the Myohyang Mountains, but on 10 October 1997 the highway from Pyongyang was completed, improving access to the Myohyang Hotel, which is restricted to use by foreigners.

Hyangsan village is located where the Myohyang River comes together with the Chongchon River. Hyangsan only has one main street, with traditional Korean houses on both sides.

The Pyongyang-Hyangsan Expressway was constructed to facilitate transport to and from munitions factories in Jagang Province as well as helping foreign tourists visit the scenic Mount Myohyang. The Pyongyang-Hyangsan Expressway was opened in 1996, partly to facilitate the tourism of the famous Mount Myohyang. Except for the Pyongyang-Kaesong Highway and portions of the Pyongyang-Hyangsan Highway, no North Korean expressways have midline lane dividers. On the Pyongyang-Hyangsan highway, motorists have no trouble running at 100km per hour. But one can hardly avoid feeling alone on that highway. Expressways in North Korea give motorists a sense of desolation, primarily because they encounter few vehicles during hours of driving.

Hyangsan Hotel is situated in Mt. Myohyang, a scenic spot of Korea. The hotel with unique triangular architectural style was opened in May Juche 75 (1986). The 15-storeyed hotel has a total floor space of more than 32,500 square meters. It boasts the peculiar architecture of the main lobby, the lobby on the first floor, the revolving restaurant and its modern welfare and service facilities. The skylights of the main lobby were built in such a way as to keep it well-lighted. the main lobby is so gorgeously decorated with a fountain and varieties of fittings that it is reminiscent of picturesque Mt. Myohyang. The hotel is always bustling with Korean and foreign visitors. The DPRK and the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO) held talks in Hyangsan, north of Pyongyang, to discuss the long-delayed construction of nuclear power plants. The entrance to the 'Valley of Falls' is, via the road along the Myohyang River, 4 km from Hyangsan Hotel. From the entrance to the valley there is a 2.6 km long path leading up to the Nine Falls and another 3.6 km long path is going down and back. The path up begins just after the path down.

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Page last modified: 24-07-2011 04:38:47 ZULU