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North Korean peak suffering from 'tired mountain syndrome' after repeated nuclear tests

David Millward

 

 

Punggye-ri nuclear test site - Pleiades CNES/Airbus DS/38 North/Spot Image

The North Korean mountain which has hosted a succession of nuclear tests appears to have suffered serious geological damage.

Analysts now believe that Mount Mantap is suffering what experts call "tired mountain syndrome."

The tests were accompanied by a series of earthquakes, the largest being a 6.3 magnitude which was felt in China.

They were carried out at the Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Facility beneath the 7,200 feet mountain.

Chinese scientists fear that the mountain could collapse completely, releasing radiation from the blast.

“What we are seeing from North Korea looks like some kind of stress in the ground,” Paul Richards, a seismologist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, told the Washington Post.

North Korea’s nuclear progress - estimated yields per test

“In that part of the world, there were stresses in the ground, but the explosions have shaken them up.” 

Even ahead of the tests there have been growing fears that the whole of the Korean peninsula could become more vulnerable to earthquakes.

In September last year, South Korea was rocked by a  5.8 earthquake.

North Korea and the H-Bomb

Nuclear tests carried out by both the Soviet Union and United States in the past have led to considerable seismic activity.

With North Korea showing no sign of scaling back its nuclear activities, the threat of more earthquakes is clear.

A senior North Korean diplomat made clear that Pyongyang does not plan to hold any talks with Washington about its nuclear programme, saying that possessing the weapons was a matter of life and death for the country.

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