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North Korea Plans 'Spectacle' at Mount Mantap

It's supposed to destroy nuke site as journalists look on this week
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted May 21, 2018 9:20 AM CDT
This May 7, 2018, satellite image shows the nuclear test site in Punggye-ri, North Korea.   (Satellite Image 2018 DigitalGlobe, a Maxar company via AP)

(Newser) – The world's last active underground nuclear testing site is set to meet its end this week. North Korea intends to close the Punggye-ri facility beneath Mount Mantap between Wednesday and Friday, depending on the weather, and journalists from five outside countries have been invited to attend and observe. The North's stated plan is to remove the guard-related infrastructure around the site, seal the entrances, and use explosives to close the tunnels.

  • Setting expectations: "Expect good imagery, but not much else," quips the AP, which expects a scene "heavy on spectacle and light on substance."
  • Motivation: The AP notes that in revealing in April that the facility would be closed, Kim Jong Un said his reasoning was that North Korea has completed its nuclear development and doesn't need to conduct future tests there. A physicist with the Union of Concerned Scientists is skeptical: "North Korea certainly would need more tests to have any confidence in its H-bomb." A study released in April suggested much of the facility is actually useless due to collapses, though 38 North countered that by asserting there are two portals "located in more pristine competent rock" that it believes would be appropriate for testing.

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