North Korea nuclear tests are 'leading to deformed babies and turning province into wasteland'

Defectors say 80 per cent of trees die and underground wells have run dry

Samuel Osborne
Tuesday 07 November 2017 08:18
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North Korean leader Kim Jong-un inspects a nuclear weapons programme in a photo released by the DPRK's state new agency
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un inspects a nuclear weapons programme in a photo released by the DPRK's state new agency

North Korea‘s nuclear test site has been turned into a wasteland where babies are born with defects, defectors have reported.

Defectors from Kilju county, where the Punggye-ri underground nuclear test facility is located, have said 80 per cent of trees that are planted die and underground wells have run dry.

The witness accounts come from a group of 21 defectors who used to live in the region who were interviewed by the Research Association of Vision of North Korea, according to the South Korean Chosun Ilbo newspaper.

North Korean tunnel at nuclear test site collapses with as many as 200 workers killed, Japanese media report

One defector said people in the region are worried about contamination from radiation.

“I heard from a relative in Kilju that deformed babies were born in hospitals there,” another said.

Another former resident, referring to the regime’s most recent nuclear test, said: “I spoke on the phone with family members I left behind there and they told me that all of the underground wells dried up after the sixth nuclear test.”

The defectors, which include one person who claimed to have experienced two nuclear tests in October 2006 and May 2009, said locals were not warned in advance.

“Only family members of soldiers were evacuated to underground shafts,” they said. “Ordinary people were completely unaware of the tests.”

Other sources said residents from Kilju have been banned from making hospital appointments in the capital, Pyongyang, since the most recent nuclear test.

Officials are reportedly attempting to contain leaks from the area by arresting anyone caught boarding trains from Kilju with samples of soil, water or leaves, and sending them to prison camps.

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