Ri is a former director of the Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center. In 2005 he served on the program committee of the International Atomic Energy Agency's Nuclear Energy and Security (NUSEC) conference in Salzburg, Austria. According to the United Nations, Ri has played a "key role in the ... [DPRK's] nuclear program”.
In January 2016 Ri, along with a fellow associate in the nuclear weapons program Hong Sung-mu, was the first in line to receive a medal from Kim Jong-un for success in the January 2016 nuclear test. The two men are collectively known as North Korea's "nuclear duo".
- "RI HONG-SOP". un.org. United Nations Security Council. Retrieved September 4, 2017.
- Jeffries, Ian (2012). North Korea, 2009-2012: A Guide to Economic and Political Developments. Routledge. p. 109. ISBN 1135116989.
- Chaim Braun; Siegfried Hecker; Chris Lawrence; Panos Papadiamantis (27 May 2016). North Korean Nuclear Facilities After the Agreed Framework (PDF). Center for International Security and Cooperation (Report). Stanford University. Retrieved 14 March 2019.
- ENERSEC Conference Series Nuclear Energy and Security (NUSEC) Book of Abstracts (PDF). IAEA. 2005. p. ix.
- "North Korea's nuclear scientists take center stage with H-bomb test". Reuters. September 4, 2017. Retrieved September 4, 2017.
- Choe Sang-hun; Rich, Motoko; Renau, Natalie; Carlesen, Audrey (15 December 2017). "Rocket Men: The Team Building North Korea's Nuclear Missile". The New York Times. Retrieved 12 February 2019.
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