Recent satellite imagery and analysis by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) has revealed that North Korea is scrambling to make repairs to flooded compartments of Tunnel 3 and Tunnel 4 of Punggye-ri Nuclear Test facility. Tunnel 3 was collapsed in 2018 under negotiations with President Trump in order show the Hermit Kingdom’s willingness to reach a settlement.
According to experts at CSIS and the South Korean Unification Ministry, Tunnel 3, where North Korea was preparing for its 7th nuclear test, appears to be filled with water believed to be groundwater. If the tunnel is filled with water, the pressure in the event of a nuclear explosion may be greater than expected, and radioactive material may leak. Since it takes a considerable amount of time to remove the water and moisture generated in the tunnel, the possibility that the nuclear test will be delayed more than expected cannot be ruled out.
Experts explain that if there is a lot of water in the tunnels of the nuclear test site, the containment effect may be weakened.
It is not clear at this time how long repairs would take, but it is also clear that the North Koreans are installing a new caisson wall in tunnel 4 to create a watertight working space, as well as a retaining wall which is a major endeavor.
Choon-geun Lee, an honorary research fellow at the Institute for Science and Technology Policy, said, “Since the entrance was blown up and left unattended, the moisture content can be high even with good drainage and ventilation. may increase significantly in volume. In this case, the pressure could increase and the containment of radioactive material could fail.”