We present neutrino-based options for verifying that the nuclear reactors at North Korea’s Yongbyon Nuclear Research Center are no longer operating or that they are operating in an agreed manner, precluding weapons production. Neutrino detectors may be a mutually agreeable complement to traditional verification protocols because they do not require access inside reactor buildings, could be installed collaboratively, and provide persistent and specific observations. At Yongbyon, neutrino detectors could passively verify reactor shutdowns or monitor power levels and plutonium contents, all from outside the reactor buildings. The monitoring options presented here build on recent successes in basic particle physics. Following a dedicated design study, these tools could be deployed in as little as one year at a reasonable cost. In North Korea, cooperative deployment of neutrino detectors could help redirect a limited number of scientists and engineers from military applications to peaceful technical work in an international community. Opportunities for scientific collaboration with South Korea are especially strong. We encourage policymakers to consider collaborative neutrino projects within a broader program of action toward stability and security on the Korean Peninsula.
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