New North Korea Nuclear Bomb Study Challenges What We Know About the Reclusive Country
North Korea shocked (and relieved) the world two weeks ago by announcing it's putting a stop to their nuclear tests and shutting down their nuclear test site Punggye-ri, but it may not be for the reason you thought.
A new research paper published in Geophysical Research Letters suggests North Korea's underground nuclear test in September 2017 accidentally caused a partial collapse of the mountain Mantap (which the tests have been conducted underneath for years).
Apart from allowing radioactive material to escape from the underground test site, the tests are apparently responsible for a series of earthquakes.
According to the abstract of the study:
"North Korea's 3 September 2017 nuclear test was followed by a series of small seismic events, with the first one occurring about eight-and-a-half minutes after the nuclear test, two on 23 September 2017, and one on 12 October 2017...Our study reveals that the seismic event eight-and-a-half minutes after the nuclear test is an onsite collapse toward the nuclear test center, while the later events are an earthquake swarm occurring in similar locations...The occurrence of the collapse should deem the underground infrastructure beneath mountain Mantap not be used for any future nuclear tests."
In effect, the nuclear tests have caused man-made earthquakes.
The paper goes on to say that the test site is essentially an environmental disaster waiting to happen.
The nuclear explosions have caused the area's tectonic faults to reach a state of "critical failure," and instead of radioactive dust and debris being contained under the mountain, there's now a kind of 'chimney' through Mantap that can release radioactive material into the air.
If any more nuclear tests are performed at Punggye-ri, it could cause more destructive earthquakes around the site, not to mention make the radioactive containment situation worse.
It's funny to think that neither global sanctions nor years of diplomacy finally forced North Korea to stop detonating nuclear bombs—it was staring down a new Chernobyl disaster.