Sharp Focus: A Unique View of the Abandoned Light Water Reactor Site at Kumho-ri

Key Findings

  • The Korean Peninsula Energy Development (KEDO) committed to the construction of two 1,000-megawatt light water reactors (LWR) at Kumho-ri following the October 1994 signing of the Agreed Framework between the United States and North Korea.  
  • Due to political and practical obstacles, the construction of the site and LWRs were suspended in November 2003.  
  • The area remains abandoned since the suspension.
  • This is the fourth of several reports providing a unique view of the Sinpo South Shipyard, Sinpo area, and Mayang-do navy facilities using a unique high off-nadir (HON) image collected by Maxar Technologies during April 2021.

As with our recent Sharp Focus high off-nadir (HON) reports of the Sinpo South ShipyardMayang-do Submarine Base and the Sinpo Shipyard, the same April 21, 2021 Maxar Technologies image provides a unique look at the abandoned Kumho-ri Light Water Reactor (LWR) Site on North Korea’s northeast coast.

While a majority of satellite imagery is collected at 0O to 35O off-nadir, the April 21 image was collected at 49.6O off-nadir—placing the Worldview 2 satellite approximately 780 kilometers away over the Yellow Sea. This image presents a view that an individual would have if they were looking at the facility out the window of an airliner showing the sides of buildings and objects and providing a sense of relative height.

A high-off nadir overview of the abandoned Kumho-ri LWR site, April 21, 2021. Click image to enlarge.

Following the October 1994 signing of the Agreed Framework between the United States and North Korea, the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO) was established to supply North Korea two 1,000-megawatt light water reactors (LWR). The site chosen for these two reactors was adjacent to the village of Kumho-ri on North Korea’s northeast coast. Planning and construction began a few years later and continued for several years before being suspended in November 2003 due to a variety of political and practical factors. At the time of the suspension, both LWRs were incomplete. Subsequently, the construction site and LWRs were abandoned and remain in that state today.

A close-up view of the abandoned Kumho-ri LWR site showing the two incomplete LWRs, April 21, 2021. Click image to enlarge.