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Apr 28, 2019

Earthquake science could have predicted North Korea’s nuclear climbdown

Posted by in categories: energy, existential risks, nuclear weapons, policy, science

Just days after North Korea announced it was suspending its testing programme, scientists revealed that the country’s underground nuclear test site had partially collapsed. This assessment was based on data gathered from smaller earthquakes that followed North Korea’s biggest nuclear test in 2017. A new study published in Science has now confirmed the collapse using satellite radar imaging.

The collapse may have played a role in North Korea’s change in policy. If correct, and with the hindsight of this research, we might have speculated that the North Koreans would want to make such an offer of peace. This shows how scientific analysis normally reserved for studying natural earthquakes can be a powerful tool in deciphering political decisions and predicting future policy across the globe.

In fact, another unusual in South Korea in 2017 also has the potential to affect geopolitics, this time by changing energy policy. “Seismic shift” may be a cliche often used by journalists and policymakers to describe changing political landscapes, but these recent earthquakes along the Korean Peninsula remind us there can really be authentic links between and global affairs.

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