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North Korea Leader’s Death Raises Nuclear Risks for Obama

The death of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il presents a potential crisis for President Barack Obama, complicating U.S. efforts to press the regime to abandon its nuclear arsenal and cease belligerent behavior.

The demise of the 70-year-old ruler -- who frustrated three U.S. administrations with his pursuit of nuclear weapons, threats toward American allies and economic mismanagement that resulted in mass starvation -- ushers in a period of uncertainty for the isolated communist regime and North Asia. It increases the danger of misjudgment on the Korean peninsula, where 1.7 million troops from North and South Korea and the U.S. square off. The U.S. has 75,000 troops stationed in South Korea and Japan and is bound by treaty to defend its allies.