People watch a TV broadcasting a news report on North Korea firing what appeared to be an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that landed close to Japan, in Seoul, South Korea. Photo: Reuters / Kim Hong-Ji

North Korea will likely seek a dialogue with the US on its nuclear weapons program after it solidifies its status as a nuke state, UPI reports, citing an assessment by a South Korean think tank.

The Institute of Foreign Affairs and National Security reportedly said on Thursday as part of its 2018 outlook that the North may initiate dialogue with the US, “if it manages to launch a missile from a standard trajectory and masters a crucial missile technology.”

The think tank also predicted that Pyongyang will conduct at least one more test of its Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) in 2018.

The North last tested the Hwasong-15 on November 29 in a flight that traveled higher and farther than any of its previous ICBM launches. Some analysts have noted, however, that it’s unclear if Pyongyang has mastered the challenges of warhead miniaturization and reentry through the earth’s atmosphere.

Once the regime has overcome such hurdles and believes its nuke tech is complete, the think tank says there’s a “high possibility” that it will seek direct talks with Washington.

Failure of the next tests to clinch the technology, on the other hand, could signal a continuation in 2018 of the diplomatic confrontations seen this year, the institute said.

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