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N. Korea could stage ICBM or nuclear test before U.S. midterm elections: think tank

All News 11:09 December 28, 2021

By Kim Eun-jung

SEOUL, Dec. 28 (Yonhap) -- North Korea could conduct an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) or nuclear test to put pressure on America ahead of the U.S. midterm elections slated for November next year, a Seoul-based think tank said Tuesday.

The Kim Jong-un regime has refrained from ICBM and nuclear tests since November 2017, but it could break the self-imposed moratorium next year to draw Washington's attention before the key political event, according to the 2022 forecast by the Asan Institute for Policy Studies.

"North Korea is likely to focus more on provocations rather than dialogue," the institute said, noting the possibility it could engage in saber-rattling between May and November. In May, a new government in Seoul is set to be launched.

Following its tests of a new submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) and a hypersonic missile earlier this year, Pyongyang may opt to launch faster, longer-range missiles or a new submarine to ratchet up military tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

Should the Joe Biden administration not budge despite these provocations, the North could resume a nuclear test or launches of intermediate-range or long-range missiles, including an ICBM, the think tank said.

Denuclearization negotiations between the U.S. and the North have remained stalled since the two countries' no-deal Hanoi summit in 2019

The U.S. has offered to talk with North Korea without any preconditions, but Pyongyang remains unresponsive to its overtures and has demanded Washington first withdraw its "hostile policy."

In this photo released Oct. 20, 2021, by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency, a new type of a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) is test-fired from waters the previous day. The South Korean military said on Oct. 19 that North Korea fired what appears to be an SLBM toward the East Sea from waters east of Sinpo, a city on the North's east coast. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

ejkim@yna.co.kr
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