One more North Korean nuclear detonation could destroy its mountain test site and trigger a radiation leak, Seoul has warned.
South Korea says any future nuclear test by Kim Jong-un risks collapsing the location set aside for launching missiles.
Seoul detected several earthquakes near the hermit nation’s nuclear test site in the country’s northeast after its sixth and most powerful bomb explosion in September.
Experts say the quakes suggest the area is now too unstable to conduct more tests there.
North Korea’s propaganda village of Gijungdong is seen from an observation post on September 28, 2017 in Panmunjom, South Korea, in this file photograph. Seoul has said says any future nuclear test by Kim Jong-un risks collapsing the location set aside for launching missiles
The launch of a Hwasong-12 missile on September 16, 2017. A launch like this at one North Korean test site could destroy it and trigger a radiation leak
South Korea’s weather agency chief Nam Jae-Cheol made the comments Monday during a parliament committee meeting.
He was responding to a lawmaker’s question about whether another North Korean test could lead to such an accident.
Earlier this month, US experts issued a similar warning, stating a second nuclear test site used by North Korea in the country’s north west could cave in but that it won’t be abandoned.
Five of Pyongyang’s recent tests have been carried out under Mount Mantap at the Punggye-ri military base, which is located in the north west of North Korea.
But now the base is said to be suffering from ‘Tired Mountain Syndrome’ after three small earthquakes occurred nearby after the blasts.
The last five of Pyongyang’s six nuclear tests have all been carried out at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site under Mount Mantap, in the north-west of the country
Writing for 38 North, which reports news about North Korea, Frank V. Pabian and Jack Liu said there could be concern about the phenomenon at Mount Mantap.
NORTH KOREA’S NUCLEAR TESTS
- October 9, 2006: 0.7-2 kilotons
- May 25, 2009: 2-5.4 kilotons
- February 12, 2013: 6-16 kilotons
- January 6, 2016: 7-10 kilotons
- September 9, 2016: 15-25 kilotons
- September 3, 2017: 100 kilotons
They wrote: ‘As a result of these nuclear test-induced earthquakes, new media reporting has appeared with headlines such as “North Korea’s Nucelar Test Site Could Be Unstable”…while these do make for eye-catching headlines, there was little substance in the articles to back them up beyond quoting the speculative fears of “civilian experts”.
‘Nonetheless, based on the severity of the initial blast, the post-test tremors, and the extent of observable surface disturbances, we have to assume that there must have been substantial damage to the existing tunnel network under Mt. Mantap.’
They added that ‘US nuclear test history at the Nevada Test Site provides evidence that such post-test tremors are not unusual,’ and that while new tunnels may be built to relieve the tension from the existing test point ‘complete abandonment of the test site as a whole remains unlikely.’
Tired Mountain Syndrome is a name for the effect of below-ground nuclear blasts on the surrounding rock, which is extensively fractured and becomes increasingly permeable.
Tensions have soared in recent weeks following Pyongyang’s nuclear test as US President Trump engages in an escalating war of words with the North’s leader Kim Jong-Un.
South Korea says any future nuclear test by Kim Jong-un (pictured) risks collapsing the location set aside for launching missiles
The North’s missile and nuclear capabilities have made significant progress under Kim, who told party officials this month that the country’s atomic weapons were a ‘treasured sword’ to protect it from aggression.
In a shift away from intercontinental ballistic missile launches (ICBM), North Korea conducted mass evacuation drills in towns across the country as ‘preparation for war’ last week.
Sources in the isolated Communist country reported that the rare drills were being conducted in ‘secondary and tertiary cities and towns’ over the course of the last week.
There were no reported drills in the capital, Pyongyang.
The drills included so-called ‘blackout’ exercises whereby whole towns would turn out all the lights at night time.
‘I have never heard of this type of training exercises before in North Korea, but am not surprised,’ Chun In-bum, a former South Korean military officer, said.
‘They must realise how serious the situation is.’
On Saturday, US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis issued a warning to North Korea that the country is no match for a decades-old American-South Korean alliance.