North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (R) inspects a launching drill of the medium-and-long range strategic ballistic rocket Hwasong-12 at an undisclosed location. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

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North Korea May Have Suspended Tests Because Nuclear Test Site Collapsed

The collapse could put China and nearby countries at extreme risk of radioactive exposure.

North Korea’s mountain nuclear test site has collapsed, reports South China Morning Post, putting China and other nearby nations at extreme risk of radioactive exposure, according to two separate groups of Chinese scientists studying the issue. The collapse may also explain why North Korean leader Kim Jong-un declared on Friday that he would freeze the state’s nuclear and missile tests and shut down the site, one researcher told the South China Morning Post. 

The last five of Pyongyang’s six nuclear tests have all been carried out at Mount Mantap at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site in North Korea. A group of researchers discovered that the most recent blast tore a hole in the mountain, which then collapsed on itself. A second group concluded the collapse created a “chimney” that could allow radioactive fallout from the blast zone below to rise into the air. According to South China Morning Post, a research team led by Wen Lianxing, a geologist with the University of Science and Technology of China in Hefei, believe the collapse happened after the detonation last fall of North Korea’s most powerful thermal nuclear warhead in a tunnel about 2,296 feet below the mountain’s peak.

“It is necessary to continue monitoring possible leaks of radioactive materials caused by the collapse incident,” Wen’s team said in the statement.

Read the full story at South China Morning Post