But as Chinese scientists have warned, one more test might be one too many.
Chinese scientists have warned that another test under the mountain could lead to an environmental disaster. If the whole mountain caved in on itself, radiation could escape and drift across the region, said Wang Naiyan, the former chairman of the China Nuclear Society and senior researcher on China’s nuclear weapons program.
“We call it ‘taking the roof off.’ If the mountain collapses and the hole is exposed, it will let out many bad things,” Wang told the South China Morning Post last month.
But perhaps equally as concerning as the collapse of Mantap is the possibility that another test could trigger an eruption at Mt. Paektu, an active supervolcano located on the North Korea-China border, about 80 miles from Pyungge-ri.
The mountain has not experienced a major eruption for centuries, and its last small rumble was in 1903. But an eruption could have devastating consequences – possibly causing more death and destruction than a nuclear blast.
And with a North Korean diplomat reiterating today that the North intends to continue with its nuclear program, while the country has also decried the military exercises happening in the waters east of the peninsula, where the USS Ronald Reagan is conducting training drills with the South Korean navy.
However, the North’s Oct. 10 holiday and the Oct. 18 beginning of China’s National Party Congress having come and gone without a new test. And signs of movement at some of the country’s missile test sites spotted in recent weeks have apparently been false alarms.
But given the amount of time that has elapsed since the North’s most recent missile test, it’s likely that the next provocative test – be it a test of a new long-range missile or a seventh nuclear test – isn’t too far off.
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