The ground around North Korea’s nuclear test site continues to shake three months after the rogue regime carried out its sixth nuclear test, detonating a suspected hydrogen bomb.
Tremors, believed to be the result of North Korea’s test of a powerful staged thermonuclear weapon in early September, were detected near the Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site Saturday, a U.S. Geological Survey official told Reuters.
On Sept. 3, North Korea tested a hydrogen bomb with an explosive yield at least 10 times greater than that of the atomic bomb the U.S. dropped on Hiroshima, Japan. The test literally moved mountains, causing landslides and reshaping the mountain under which the nuclear test site is located.
Since then, at least half a dozen small earthquakes have continuously rocked the area.
Past tests produced smaller explosive yields, but September’s explosion was unlike anything seen before in North Korea. “When you have a large nuclear test, it moves the earth’s crust around the area, and it takes a while for it to fully subside,” the USGS official explained. “We’ve had a few of them since the sixth nuclear test.”
Frequent earthquakes and tremors have led some observers to conclude that North Korea’s nuclear test site may be out of commission, with some suggesting that another test could cause a dangerous collapse and even destabilize the active volcano not too far away. With an unstable test site, the North runs the risk of radiation leaks and other environmental catastrophes.
Other experts, as well as South Korea’s intelligence community, have argued that North Korea still has other tunnels that could be used to conduct a nuclear test at any time.
North Korea’s nuclear testing is believed to have taken a toll on the civilian population that lives in the areas surrounding the country’s nuclear test site, as many defectors have reported the spread of a “ghost disease,” a term that may refer to radiation-related illnesses. North Korean defectors report cancer, neurological issues, and birth defects.
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