North Korea earlier this month said it would surprise the U.S. with a "Christmas gift" and appeared to reiterate a year-end deadline for Washington to change its approach to restart negotiations. The "Christmas gift" — which many experts expect to be a missile test — hasn't materialized.
It's not clear whether any "gift" would come before the year ends. But Scott Seaman, Asia director at risk consultancy Eurasia Group, told CNBC's "Squawk Box Asia" that there have been "plenty of short-range missile tests" by North Korea this year, which attracted "modest" reaction from the U.S.
"So I think we can well expect next year that we'll see more tests, and of course the big question is whether we'll see an ICBM test," he added, referring to an intercontinental ballistic missile. Pyongyang has claimed that its ICBM has the capabilities to hit continental U.S.
Denuclearization talks between the U.S. and North Korea hit a stalemate this year following several rounds of diplomacy. The U.S. tried to get talks back on track, but those efforts have not yielded much results, noted Seaman.
"I think the U.S. certainly wants to show that it's actively working to keep the process moving forward. It doesn't want to be in a position where it makes it easy for (North Korean leader) Kim Jong Un to criticize U.S. for not trying hard enough to resolve their differences through dialogue," he said.
"But certainly there hasn't been much movement as far as restarting that formal negotiation process."