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HomeWorldNorth Korea Missile tests create radiation risk in China and Japan

North Korea Missile tests create radiation risk in China and Japan

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A Seoul-based human rights organisation warned in a report on Tuesday that radioactive contaminants from an underground nuclear test site could seep through groundwater and expose tens of thousands of North Koreans, as well as people in South Korea, Japan, and China.

The U.S. and South Korean governments claim that between 2006 and 2017, North Korea conducted six covert nuclear weapons tests at the Punggye-ri location in the hilly North Hamgyong Province.

According to the analysis by the Transitional Justice Working Group, radioactive contaminants may have spread across eight cities and counties close to the site, where more than 1 million North Koreans reside and where groundwater is used for daily activities like drinking.

Additionally, it warned that nearby South Korea, China, and Japan could be in danger from smuggled agricultural and fishing items coming from the North.

For the study, which was supported by the National Endowment for Democracy, a non-profit organisation funded by the U.S. Congress, the group, which was founded in 2014, collaborated with nuclear and medical experts and defectors and used open source intelligence as well as reports from the government and the United Nations that were made available to the public.

Hubert Young-hwan Lee, the group’s leader and a co-author, said of the paper: “This report is significant in proving that North Korea’s nuclear tests could harm the right to life and health of not just the North Korean people, but also of those in South Korea and other neighbouring nations.”

Reuters’ phone calls to the diplomatic representation of North Korea at the UN in New York went unanswered.

In 2015, North Korean hedgehog mushrooms that were imported and mislabeled as Chinese goods contained nine times the allowable quantity of radioactive cesium isotopes, according to South Korea’s food safety office.

After the North’s earlier nuclear tests, China and Japan increased their radiation monitoring and voiced worries about possible exposure, but they withheld information on food contamination.

Numerous international specialists have expressed concerns about the potential health dangers of tainted water, but North Korea has dismissed these worries, claiming—without providing any supporting data—that no hazardous chemicals leaked after previous nuclear tests.

North Korea took away the foreign journalists’ radiation detectors when it invited them to see the tunnels at the nuclear test site being destroyed in 2018.

Due to thawing relations between the two Koreas, Seoul’s Unification Ministry, which oversees inter-Korean affairs, discontinued radiation testing defectors in 2018.

However, forty defections from the areas close to Punggye-ri were tested for radiation in 2017 and 2018, and at least nine of them had abnormalities. However, according to the government, a direct connection to the nuclear site could not be made.

According to the research, around 880 North Koreans have escaped from such areas since 2006.

The rights group called for the tests to resume and for a global investigation into the radiation threats to the areas near Punggye-ri.

A request for feedback from the Unification Ministry did not receive a prompt response.

Seoul and Washington have suggested that Pyongyang may be getting ready for its sixth nuclear test.

ALSO READ: North Korea launches Ballistic missile for the second time in 48 hours, says South Korea

Aaradhya is working as a Sub-Editor at The Vocal News. She enjoys writing about gadgets and automobiles because she is a tech and automotive fanatic. She has done her bachelors in Journalism and Mass communication from Makhanlal Chaturvedi Rashtriya Patrakarita Vishwavidyalaya. "I write to discover what I know."

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