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The country's first test was largely seen as a failure and produced an estimated yield of only about one kiloton, compared to as much as 250 kilotons in the sixth — an explosion 16 times more powerful than the US atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945. But Punggye-ri's proximity to China has become a source of concern for Beijing, as the tremor from the sixth test was felt across the border and prompted many residents to flee their homes in panic. The growing impact of the blasts raised safety concerns, with some Chinese scientists warning that the site could pose a major radioactive threat to the wider region. A recent study by seismologists at the University of Science and Technology of China suggested rock had collapsed under the Mantap peak, making it unusable. Kim himself has disputed those claims in conversations with his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-In. "If they come and see, they will understand that there are two bigger tunnels than the existing test facilities and that they are in a very good condition," Kim said, according to comments released by the South. Sceptics have said the move to destroy the site is an empty concession by Kim as the site is already suffering from "tired mountain syndrome" and may be obsolete. Others say North Korea has learned all it needs from the nuclear tests conducted there. "They already collected the necessary data through six nuclear tests and unless they discard that data, there are suspicions over how significant the dismantling of a nuclear test site that has already run its course is," said Go Myong-Hyun, an analyst at the Asan Institute of Policy Studies. But Jeffrey Lewis of the Middlebury Institute of Strategic Studies says there is "no basis" to conclude Punggye-ri is no longer usable and the promised closure is "not a case of passing off damaged goods".
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