It finally happened.
Six months after a group of Chinese scientists warned that the North Korean Punggye-ri nuclear test site was on the verge of collapse, and following reports from Japan’s Asahi TV that more than 200 North Koreans had died when a tunnel collapsed at the test site, the South China Morning Post reported today that North Korea’s mountain nuclear test site has completely collapsed, putting China and other nearby nations at unprecedented risk of radioactive exposure, two separate groups of Chinese scientists studying the issue have confirmed.
The collapse also likely explains the sudden willingness of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to declare last Friday that he would freeze the state’s nuclear and missile tests and shut down the site, a researcher cited by the SCMP said.
At least five of North Korea’s last six nuclear tests all took place under Mount Mantap at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site in North Korea’s northwest; in the process they unleashed artificial earthquakes and destabilized the mountain to the point of no return.
According to the SCMP report, a group of researchers found that the most recent blast tore open a hole in the mountain, which then collapsed upon itself. A second group concluded that the breakdown created a “chimney” that could allow radioactive fallout from the blast zone below to rise into the air.
North Korea’s military, economy, and population have been strained by decades of brutal communist totalitarian regimes. In spite of this setback, the North Korean gargoyle has likely accomplished what he wanted so far—completion of tests that reflect his ability to be a nuclear threat.
Caveat: I wouldn’t trust Fatty the Third as far as I could throw him.