Ponghwa Chemical Factory: North Korea’s Chemical Facilities: Site Profile 1

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Courtesy of Airbus Defence and Space

The first in a series of site profiles examines the Ponghwa Chemical Factory in North Korea.

Executive Summary

This report on the Ponghwa Chemical Factory is the first in a series exploring different chemical production facilities throughout North Korea. The project seeks to map out the North Korean chemical industry and its potential links to a chemical weapons programme. There is nothing in open sources that suggests this site is involved in producing chemical weapons. However, it is the main oil refinery in North Korea and, as such, would provide the building-block raw materials for the production of organic chemicals. Ponghwa Chemical Factory is therefore a central part of North Korea’s chemical industry, and no networked assessment of the country’s national industrial-chemical capacity, and its potential to produce chemical warfare agents (CWAs) would be complete without analysis of a site producing these basic raw materials.

The report covers a brief history of the site from its construction and commissioning in the 1970s through to satellite imagery demonstrating that it is still operational. Individual areas are identified and analysed in relation to their purpose. Finally, local links to the site are explored to give it a wider context within the area.

The features and areas of the site are consistent with those expected in a refinery, making it unlikely that it is directly involved in the manufacture of chemical weapons. The site manufactures various fractions from crude oil. These fractions include liquid petroleum gas/refinery gas, petrol/gasoline, kerosene/paraffin, diesel oil, heavy fuel oil and bitumen/tars/coke.


Lennie Phillips OBE

Senior Research Fellow, Chemical Weapons

Proliferation and Nuclear Policy

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Dr Giangiuseppe Pili

Associate Fellow; Assistant Professor, James Madison University

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Air Vice-Marshal Sean Corbett CB MBE

Senior Associate Fellow

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