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N. Korea's shifting demands

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By Tong Kim

Last April North Korean leader Kim Jong-un set a year-end deadline for U.S. flexibility to accept Pyongyang's demands. Last week Stephen Biegun, top U.S. nuclear negotiator and a nominee for deputy secretary of state, said the deadline was "an artificial one" ― an implication that the U.S. won't make a major policy adjustment to meet the deadline and that the current stalemate may pass over the year-end.

Announcing the deadline, Kim said he would take a "new path" if the deadline is missed. North Korean officials have suggested, as foreign observers speculated, that a "new path" points to resuming nuclear and ICBM tests, terminating negotiations and returning to confrontation and tension.

The North conducted another test of "a super-large multiple rocket launch system" Nov. 28 ― the fourth one since August ― firing two projectiles 30 seconds apart toward the East Sea. The system is known as a hybrid of ballistic missile technology that carries four large rockets. Some news outlets called the firing a Thanksgiving reminder to Washington of Kim's deadline.

It could have been a warning to the U.S. to keep the deadline with a new negotiating position acceptable to Pyongyang. On the other hand, it may have been simply to test........

© The Korea Times