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N Korea at crossroads

Kim Jong Un bets on Trump return to office

Pyongyang is ready to conduct nuclear test but may wait until after 2024 U.S. election

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has overseen a flurry of missile tests in recent weeks. (Photo by KCNA via Kyodo) 

SEOUL -- South Korea's intelligence agency says North Korea could carry out its seventh nuclear test before the U.S. midterm elections on Nov. 8, begging the question on how Kim Jong Un intends to play his nuclear trump card to prolong his dictatorship.

U.S. and South Korean authorities concluded this spring that the North had finished the restoration of Tunnel 3 at its Punggye-ri nuclear test site, and the South's National Intelligence Service told parliament in May that Pyongyang had completed preparations.

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