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[en] There are a plenty of out-of-use plutonium–beryllium neutron sources in Eastern Europe presenting both nuclear safeguards and security issues. Typically, their actual Pu content is not known. In the last couple of years different non-destructive methods were developed for their characterization. For such methods detailed knowledge of the nuclear reactions taking place within the source is necessary. In this paper we investigate the role of the neutron producing reactions, their contribution to the neutron yield and their dependence on the properties of the source.