North Korea probably won’t abandon its mountainous Punggye-ri nuclear test site despite reports of three earthquake-like events since it conducted an underground explosion on September 3, according to 38 North, a specialist website dedicated to analysis of North Korea.
The exclusive analysis by veteran North Korea watchers Frank V. Pabian and Jack Liu counters speculation in the US media that the post-test underground events are related to a structural collapse or cave-in at the facility. Such reports theorize that the tremors have rendered Mt. Mantap, where the tests are being conducted, unstable, and that Pyongyang will be forced to discontinue use of the site.
“The three earthquakes were likely induced by the ~250 kiloton nuclear test; however, US nuclear test history at the Nevada Test Site provides evidence that such post-test tremors are not unusual,” the analysts concluded. “Furthermore, even in the face of what has been dubbed “Tired Mountain Syndrome,” abandonment of the site for nuclear testing should not be expected. Such historical precedent, combined with the presence of two other, as yet unused tunnel complexes within the test site, leads us to conclude that there is no valid reason to assume that the Punggye-ri test site is unable to contain additional underground nuclear tests.”