NORTH KOREA (OBSERVATORY) – North Korea will close its nuclear testing site in May, the North Korean president’s office said.
This coincides with US President Donald Trump’s announcement that talks with North Korea could be held “within the next three to four weeks.”
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un recently announced a suspension of nuclear and missile tests. Kim was quoted as saying he would close the nuclear test site.
The Korean leader said in an official statement quoted by the official news agency that his country no longer needs to conduct nuclear tests or tests of intercontinental ballistic missiles “because it has already completed arming itself with nuclear weapons.”
This came at a time of tension in the Korean Peninsula, where a summit was held between the leaders of the two Koreas as Kim prepares to meet US President Donald Trump.
But has North Korea already stopped its nuclear testing in the context of the current trends towards reconciliation and peace in the region or after its nuclear armament?
North Korea was conducting nuclear tests in a northeastern region 50 kilometers from the city of Kilgo-i near the nuclear testing center in Bonggi-ri.
Chinese scientists have recently said that the site where North Korea conducts its nuclear tests has partially collapsed and turned out to be unusable.
North Korea has used the Bungi-ri site for six nuclear tests since 2006.
After the last nuclear test on this site, several aftershocks hit the site in September, leading to a partial collapse of the mountains according to seismologists.
The site is located in mountainous terrain in northeastern North Korea, and tests are conducted within a network of dug tunnels at the bottom of Mount Mantab.
“The collapse of the infrastructure under the Mantab Mountain makes it unsuitable for future nuclear testing,” said the research published on the USC Tech website.
The results also indicate that “the crash at the test site requires constant close monitoring in case any radioactive materials leak.”
“The observation about the feasibility of the test site will not be included in the published research,” said study supervisor Professor Wen Lianxing of the Wall Street Journal, but did not explain why.
The results of the study are similar to a recent study conducted by a team from the agency “Jilin Earthquake” published in the same period last month.
“The explosion caused a gap and destroyed the rocks, causing a collapse,” experts said.
The study did not discuss the safety of the test site due to the collapse.
The US Geological Survey recorded a second quake about 8 minutes after the nuclear test, which was assessed as a collapse in the mountain cavity.
Two earthquakes were detected in late December, raising concerns about the stability of the mountains around the site.
North Korean nuclear tests
- October 2002: North Korea’s first acknowledgment that it has a military nuclear program.
- October 2006: The first three underground nuclear explosions are announced at the Bungi-ri nuclear testing site.
- May 2009: After a month of international talks on North Korea’s nuclear program, Pyongyang is conducting its second underground nuclear test.
- February 2013: Third nuclear test using what the media described as “a light and compact nuclear device.”
- May 2015: Pyongyang says it has tested a submarine missile, making it more difficult to detect than conventional devices.
- January 2016: North Korea says it has successfully tested a hydrogen bomb.
- September 2016: North Korea conducts fifth nuclear test.