The area surrounding Punggye-ri has reportedly become a wasteland where 80% of trees planted die, while underground wells have run dry, according to the 21 former residents of the secretive state.
Locals in Kilju county, the location of the site, now fear that radioactive contamination is destroying the area.
One of those who escaped from the North Korea told the Chosun Ilbo newspaper: “I heard from a relative in Kilju that deformed babies were born in hospitals there.”
Another added: “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.”
One defector told the newspaper that locals were not warned of any tests, while family members of soldiers were moved to underground shafts.
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Authorities have apparently begun arresting anyone from Kilju county who attempts to expose the nuclear tests.
Once detained, defectors claim these people are then sent to prison camps.
North Korea is ramping up its nuclear missile programme, with American officials believing the country will soon have the capability to reach the shores of the US.
Earlier today, President Donald Trump signalled a willingness to negotiate with North Korea to end its nuclear weapons programme, urging Pyongyang to “come to the table” and “make a deal”.
In a notable shift from his aggressive rhetoric toward North Korea, Mr Trump took a more optimistic tone in South Korea on Tuesday, suggesting “ultimately, it’ll all work out”.