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The North Korean Crisis Around the Corner

North Korea has launched more than 40 ballistic missiles this year and is reportedly preparing to conduct its seventh nuclear test. The war in Ukraine and the escalating rivalry between the US and China may fuel North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un’s nuclear ambitions, setting the stage for a new dangerous cycle of escalation.

NEW YORK – A new geopolitical crisis is stirring against the backdrop of the war in Ukraine, tensions around Taiwan, and the sharpening US-China rivalry. North Korea, after a three-year pause in nuclear provocations, is gearing up for what intelligence agencies warn could be a seventh nuclear test – possibly before the US midterm elections on November 8.

Five years ago, the world faced the prospect of “fire and fury” as North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un and then-US President Donald Trump traded threats of nuclear war. A phony peace followed, as Kim met with several world leaders to gain sanctions relief in exchange for vague promises to scale back parts of his nuclear program.

After his failed Hanoi summit with Trump in 2019, Kim returned to Pyongyang and soon ordered a national lockdown in a futile effort to escape the COVID-19 pandemic. But North Korea’s nuclear-weapons and missile programs continued to advance rapidly.