North Korea’s nuclear test site may not be able to take another blast
North Korea’s nuclear test site may not be able to take another blast after a series of earthquakes raised questions over its stability. Experts believe Pyongyang’s sixth and largest test at the Punggye-ri nuclear site at the beginning of September may have destabilised the region to such an extent it can’t be used anymore.
On Friday a magnitude 2.7 earthquake was measured at North Hamgyong Province, the latest in a series of three strikes to have taken place since the test on September 3, and is not believed to be man-made. It has led to the theory that the hydrogen bomb test may have damaged the mountainous location in the northwest of the country. ‘The explosion from the September 3 test had such power that the existing tunnels within the underground testing site might have caved in,’ said Kim So-gu, head researcher at the Korea Seismological Institute.
‘I think the Punggye-ri region is now pretty saturated. If it goes ahead with another test in this area, it could risk radioactive pollution.’ Satellite pictures have shown that a number of landslides have taken place throughout the region, giving further credence to the belief infrastructure and tunnels at the site may have collapsed and been damaged.
It is thought the tunnel that has been used for the previous five tests, including the latest which North Korea claimed was a hydrogen bomb, may have caved in. This could mean the next test could be above ground and perhaps take place over the ocean, in what would be a provocative display of intent and ambition to the US.