North Korea will pose one of the largest threats to the Asia Pacific region in the coming year, the National Bureau of Asian Research (NBR) predicts.
The U.S.-based think tank has outlined eleven key challenges facing the region in 2014, and identified North Korea as a state whose “domestic political machinations and hostility to the outside world will pose the greatest threat to regional stability.”
It was further posited that North Korea is likely to conduct low-level provocations like ballistic missile tests and a fourth nuclear test “as a means of securing domestic support for the regime, especially the military.”
A more inward focus is also anticipated, as Pyongyang enters a “consolidation phase,” exhibited by the recent purge and execution of Jang Sung Taek.
However, based on analysis carried out by website 38North, Pyongyang does not appear to be planning a nuclear test for the near future.
Utilizing satellite imagery of the North, the site has discovered that, “North Korea recently resumed excavation of a probable new test tunnel at the West Portal area, site of the 2009 and 2013 nuclear detonations.” However, “Completion of that tunnel may take some time.”