North Korean official in charge of nuclear facilities reportedly executed

North Korean official in charge of mining and tunneling works at major nuclear test sites is believed to have been executed. Photo courtesy of Airbus Defense & Space and 38 North.

SEOUL, South Korea, Dec. 19 (UPI) — A senior North Korean official in charge of construction works on nuclear facilities is believed to have been executed, Asahi Shimbun reported Tuesday.

A former North Korean soldier told the Japanese daily there have been unconfirmed reports that a director of Bureau 131 was recently removed from his position, then executed for allegedly disclosing military secrets.

Bureau 131, or the General Bureau of Atomic Energy, is a subsidiary of the ruling Worker’s party, responsible for construction works on the North’s major nuclear and missile facilities, including the main nuclear test site of Punggye-ri and the Tongchang-ri missile launch pad.

The director is believed to have worked as a specialist at the bureau since its establishment. The Asahi report suggests his sentence may have been delivered due to the delayed timing of the regime’s sixth nuclear test, and the collapse of tunnels following the massive underground blast.

A source told the paper, “It seems he took the blame as the prolonged mining of the nuclear facility pushed back the test date to September when it was initially set for spring.”

North Korea conducted its sixth and largest nuclear test at the Pyunggye-ri nuclear facility on September 3, claiming to have tested a powerful hydrogen bomb.

The artificial explosion reportedly caused buildings and grounds in the vicinity to collapse, and has since triggered a series of landslides and aftershocks.


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