Ahead of talks between the leaders of North and South Korea this week, and the promise of an actual meeting between Kim Jong-un and President Donald Trump, many authorities warn North Korea can’t be trusted. The feel like the talks are a diversion. Now, new reports indicate there may be another reason why the North Koreans are willing to enter into negotiations.
“North Korea’s mountain nuclear test site has collapsed,” South China Morning Post reports, “putting China and other nearby nations at unprecedented risk of radioactive exposure.”
The news group cites two unrelated groups of Chinese scientists who are studying North Korean nuclear capabilities.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un stated last week that his country will suspend their nuclear tests. This comes after five separate tests at the site pictured below.
This image shows the landscape before the test. The one below shows the landslides after.
“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,” SCMP reports.
The collapse has created a hole in the test site, what the researchers are calling a chimney, that could allow the underground materials to leak above ground.
“A research team led by Wen Lianxing, a geologist with the University of Science and Technology of China in Hefei, concluded that the collapse occurred following the detonation last autumn of North Korea’s most powerful thermal nuclear warhead in a tunnel about 700 meters (2,296 feet) below the mountain’s peak,” SCMP writes.
Any radiation leaking from the site could endanger the North Koreans, but also the Chinese on the nearby border.
“It is necessary to continue monitoring possible leaks of radioactive materials caused by the collapse incident,” Wen’s team said in the statement.
Another before and after above ground.
On September 3rd, the North Koreans detonated what was thought to have been a 100-kilotonne bomb. The massive explosion “vaporized surrounding rocks with unprecedented heat and opened a space that was up to 200 meters (656 feet) in diameter.”
The Chinese collected data from 2,000 seismic stations, too, to form their evaluation of the strength of the nuclear tests. The Jilin Earthquake Agency with the China Earthquake Administration in Changchun conduced their own observations, and reached the same conclusions.
“Their findings are in agreement to our observations,” Zhao Lianfeng, a researcher with the Institute of Earth Science at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, said.
“Different teams using different data have come up with similar conclusions. The only difference was in some technical details. This is the best guess that can be made by the world outside.”
Could this explain the sudden change of heart these upcoming talks demonstrate? Do the North Koreans need more help than we know?