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North Korea walks out of talks. Is it setting the stage for more nuclear tests?

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“I believe North Korea is preparing for the next nuclear test,” says Baek Seung-joo, director of the center for security and strategy at the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses reflecting the assessment of some intelligence analysts.

Is North Korea setting the stage for nuclear tests?

North Korea staged its first nuclear test in October 2006 during a break in six-party talks while George W. Bush as president was pursuing what the North saw as a hard-line policy. South Korea’s government then was led by a liberal president, Roh Moo-hyun, dedicated to the sunshine policy of reconciliation initiated by his predecessor, Kim Dae-jung, in 1998.

Mr. Roh and Mr. Kim, both of whom died in 2009, each met North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-il, in Pyongyang for historic summits intended to settle inter-Korean enmity dating from the Korean War, but North and South Korea have been increasingly hostile since the conservative Lee Myung-bak was elected president in December 2007. North Korea conducted its second nuclear test in May 2009.

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