South Korea’s chief meteorologist has warned that a fresh nuclear test at North Korea’s mountainous testing site could trigger a leak of radioactive material.
Nam Jae-cheol said that a hollow space of up to 100m in length in the bottom of Mount Mantap could implode.
North Korea’s last nuclear test in early September appeared to have triggered several landslides.
Since 2006, Pyongyang has conducted six nuclear tests, using the same Punggye-ri test site each time.
“There is a hollow space, which measures about 60 to 100 metres in length, at the bottom of Mount Mantap in the Punggye-ri site,” Nam Jae-cheol was quoted by South Korean news agency Yonhap as saying.
“Should another nuke test occur, there is the possibility of a collapse,” he warned.
The Punggye-ri test site, situated in mountainous terrain in the north-east of North Korea, is thought to be Pyongyang’s main nuclear facility and the only active nuclear testing site in the world.
Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post newspaper reported on October 27 that Chinese geologists warned North Korean officials after the September test that additional tests there could lead to a massive collapse and a leak of radioactive waste.
Meanwhile, North Korea’s main newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, has said the country has a sovereign right to launch satellites.
The statement comes amid speculation that North Korea might soon launch a satellite – widely seen as a test of the country’s ballistic missile technology.