North Korea’s Nuclear Test Site Has Reportedly Collapsed, Rendering It Unusable

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Late last week, North Korea announced the suspension of its nuclear tests in what what many hoped was a sign of goodwill ahead of Kim Jong-un’s meeting with President Trump. However, Chinese scientists are now revealing what might be the true reason for the North Korean leader’s progressive change of heart over the past month. As the South China Morning Post reports, the mountain where the regime has been carrying out its nuclear tests has collapsed, which would mean that these tests would no longer be possible at all, at least not without a substantial outflow of resources — which the sanction-gripped regime can’t manage in its current state.

The development, which was confirmed by Chinese scientists who have analyzed the mountain, doesn’t come as a complete surprise. Last October, a collapsed tunnel at the site reportedly killed over 200 workers. Here’s more about the currently precarious state of the test site:

The last five of Pyongyang’s six nuclear tests have all been carried out under Mount Mantap at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site in North Korea’s northwest.

A research team led by Wen Lianxing, a geologist with the University of Science and Technology of China in Hefei, concluded the collapse occurred following the detonation last autumn of North Korea’s most powerful thermal nuclear warhead in a tunnel about 700 metres (2,296 feet) below the mountain’s peak.

While it may seem easy enough for Kim Jong-un to simply declare the site to be shuttered, researchers believe that there could be further danger at hand. That is, radioactive dust could leak through cracks in the mountain and contaminate air or water sources — something that may have been happening already, per accounts from defectors regarding their health woes.

On Tuesday, Trump called Kim Jong-un “very honorable,” but he declined to explain exactly why he’s changed his view on “Rocket Man.”

(Via South China Morning Post)