The former top U.S. official on North Korea policy on Thursday didn't rule out the possibility that Pyongyang could conduct its third nuclear test.
In an interview with Kyodo News Agency, Stephen Bosworth, who resigned as the U.S. point man on North Korea last month, said it was "very difficult" to predict North Korea's next steps.
On the potential of a third nuclear test by the North, Bosworth was quoted as saying, "I hope not, but it's possible."
The North previously carried out nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009, drawing international condemnation and sanctions.
This year, the U.S. and North Korea have held two rounds of high-level talks as part of ongoing international attempts to resume the six-party talks aimed at ending North Korea's nuclear ambitions, but they've produced no breakthrough.
The six-party forum, which involves the two Koreas, the U.S., Russia, China and Japan, has been stalled for nearly three years.
Bosworth told Kyodo that maintaining dialogue with North Korea is in the interest of both Washington and Pyongyang, saying, "I think North Korea is much more, potentially much more, dangerous when no one is talking to them than when they are having connections with the outside world."
Seoul and Washington demand Pyongyang take concrete steps toward denuclearization, including a monitored shutdown of its uranium enrichment plant, before the six-party talks resume.