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North Korea may have stopped nuclear tests because they caused a mountain to collapse

An official of the Korea Meteorological Administration shows the epicenter of a tremor caused by North Korea's nuclear test in February 2013 in Seoul. Tremors from the nuclear tests may be destabilizing mountains in North Korea. (2013 file photo/Kim Jae Hwan/AFP/Getty Images)

North Korea announced that it would be shutting down its nuclear testing ahead of a milestone diplomatic meeting with South Korea, but there may have been other reasons behind that move too. Two separate groups of Chinese scientists have announced that North Korea’s Mount Mantap collapsed after a nuclear test.

Besides the usual damage that comes with a mountain collapsing, this could cause radioactive material from the tests to spread. The South China Morning Post, an English language newspaper based in Hong Kong, reports that the collapse may have created a “chimney” that could “allow radioactive fallout from the blast zone below to rise into the air.”

The paper also quoted a "Beijing-based scholar" named Hu affiliated with a Chinese university, who worried that the collapse could destabilize China's Changbai mountain, a nearby and large active volcano.

Mount Mantap reportedly collapsed after a nuclear test on Sept. 3, according to geologists from the University of Science and Technology of China, as reported by Forbes. A team from the Chinese Earthquake Administration concurred with these results. There have been no additional tests since that took place.

The mountain, which is near the North Korean border with China and Russia, is the site of the Punggye-ri facility, where all six of that country’s nuclear tests have taken place. Kim Jong Un has since announced that the site will be shut down.

According to The Washington Post:

“Analysis of the seismic data suggested that the explosion's yield was as high as 250 kilotons, almost 17 times that of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, in 1945.”

When Kim announced that he would be shutting down the Punggye-ri site, President Donald Trump praised the decision on Twitter:

“North Korea has agreed to suspend all Nuclear Tests and close up a major test site. This is very good news for North Korea and the World - big progress! Look forward to our Summit.”

One last thing…
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