North Korea could be a planning an "October surprise" meant to affect the U.S. election, as it has done in the past, according to a new report due out later this week.
Pyongyang may try to shake the American political scene in a number of ways, including test firing more missiles or conducting another nuclear test -- which would be the country's third this year, an analysis from the Center for Strategic and International Studies set to be released said.
CSIS will publish the report later this week.
"Doing a major test would be a way of trying to intimidate the incoming president," Victor Cha of CSIS told CNN. "North Korea chooses particular windows that they know will gain maximum attention from the world, and the U.S. in particular."
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"I don't think we can solve [the North Korean nuclear crisis] diplomatically, that much is clear," said Michael Green, also of CSIS, and formerly of the U.S. National Security Council. "Every administration in the last 20 years has tried a diplomatic approach, and the North Koreans have blown through every one."
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said earlier this year he was open to direct talks with Kim Jong Un, a framework that differs from the so-called "P5+1" talks -- the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany -- favored by the Obama administration.
But North Korea cut off communication with the U.S. at the U.N. in New York in July, and administration moves signal a relationship that has gone from bad to worse. Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton has backed the administration in supporting strengthened U.N. sanctions on the North.
Further, Reuters reported Tuesday that North Korea is winning the arms race with a central U.S. ally particularly impacted by the standoff: Japan. Tokyo is now unsure it could fend off a missile strike without U.S. help, military sources said.
"Our only option for now may be to rely on the U.S. to stop them," says a source at the Japan Self Defence Forces.
"North Korean ballistic missile technology is progressing step by step and every time we raise our capability they improve theirs," says another SDF source.