With North Korea, Iran Talks Faltering, Bush Is Poised to Leave Behind Two Nuclear Challenges

Last-ditch diplomacy might not prevent the next president from facing two new active nuclear foes

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But, analysts worry, it could also be a sign of the North swerving toward a harder-line posture amid reports that the country's leader, Kim Jong Il, may have suffered a stroke in August and could be partially incapacitated. The long-building dispute over getting North Korea to agree to intrusive inspections could be bursting forth just as the secretive regime is dealing with leadership uncertainties.

As for Iran, Ahmadinejad used his media-heavy stay in New York to reaffirm his government's defiance. "Using the language of force has no effect on the Iranian people," he said. "As far as we're concerned, the nuclear issue is resolved."