Can we say karma?
Friday, in a town near North Korea’s Punggye-ri nuclear test site, an earthquake was detected, making it the fouth such event in less than a week. Experts are saying that it may have caused serious damage to the facility and that future tests there may be out of the question.
As The Washington Post reported, the 2.7 magnitude tremor was place 34 miles northwest of Kilju, where the nuclear test facility is housed. Although the quake was not man-made (which would have indicated a nuclear test), earthquakes usually do not occur naturally in this area.
One day before this quake, on Thursday, a 2.9 magnitude quake struck the region. It was speculated that Pyongyang possibly conducted another nuclear test. This was a small tremor compared to those caused by prior North Korean tests. This latest earthquake though is making many wonder just what caused it, which means North Korea’s nuclear program could be devastating for “Little Rocket Man’s” precious kingdom.
The Washington Post reported:
“The officials, who requested anonymity citing department rules, said they believe the four quakes probably happened because the underground nuclear test on Sept. 3 weakened or affected the tectonic plate structures in the area. ”
“The officials declined to say how the recent quakes might have affected the area and the test site, where all of North Korea’s nuclear bomb tests have taken place. But some civilian experts said North Korea may stop using the site.”
Kim So Gu, head researcher at the Korea Seismological Institute shared her thoughts with the U.K. Express:
“The explosion from the Sept. 3 test had such power that the existing tunnels within the underground testing site might have caved in. I think the Punggye-ri region is now pretty saturated. If it goes ahead with another test in this area, it could risk radioactive pollution.”
It has been stated by Kune Yull Suh, a Nuclear Engineering professor at Seoul National University, that testing a larger nuclear weapon at Punggye-ri would be “potentially suicidal.” This is not just because of radioactive fallout, or weakened tectonic plate structures, but such a test would also run the risk of setting off an eruption at Mount Paektu, which is just 60 miles from the testing facility.
Even if North Korea conducted its next nuclear tests in the stratosphere, as Suh speculates they might do, the loss of the site at Punggye-ri would be a massive setback for Kim Jong Un and North Korea’s nuclear program, particularly as “Little Rocket Man” has sought to dramatically speed up Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program.
Keep in mind, none of this has been confirmed as of yet. But in all seriousness, there are not many other plausible explanations. Just the fact that the North Korean state media has kept the earthquakes quiet is a clear sign they weren’t something that they wanted the whole world to know about.
The last test that they had registered a 6.9 on the Richter Scale. Evidence states that this test inflicted significant greater environmental disruption that that of previous tests. 38 North reported just last month that commercial satellite imagery confirmed after the testing on September 3, that “disturbances are more numerous and widespread than seen after any of the North’s previous five tests, and include additional slippage in pre-existing landslide scars and a possible subsidence crater.”
If these reports are accurate, they indicate nothing short of a catastrophe for Pyongyang’s atomic weapons program.
This could be great news for the United States and the rest of the world. This does leave the question though as to what Kim Jong Un’s next move might be.
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