Thursday, April 26, 2018
North Korea's mountain nuclear test site has collapsed, putting China and other nearby nations at unprecedented risk of radioactive exposure, two separate groups of Chinese scientists studying the issue have confirmed. The collapse after five nuclear blasts may be why North Korean leader Kim Jong-un declared on Friday that he would freeze the hermit state's nuclear and missile tests and shut down the site, one researcher said. One group of researchers found that the most recent blast tore open a hole in the mountain, which then collapsed upon itself. A second group concluded that the breakdown created a "chimney" that could allow radioactive fallout from the blast zone below to rise into the air.
Speculation grew that North Korea's site was in trouble when Lee Doh-sik, the top North Korean geologist, visited Zhao's institute about two weeks after the test and met privately with senior Chinese government geologists.
Although the purpose of Lee's visit was not disclosed, two days later Pyongyang announced it would no longer conduct land-based nuclear tests.
Hu Xingdou, a Beijing-based scholar who follows North Korea's nuclear programme, said it was highly likely that Pyongyang had received a stark warning from Beijing.
"The test was not only destabilising the site but increasing the risk of eruption of the Changbai Mountain," a large, active volcano at China-Korean border, said Hu, who asked that his university affiliation not be disclosed for this article because of the topic's sensitivity.
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