Kim Jong Un is back in the saddle — literally — and apparently ready to make a decision on what kind of "Christmas present" North Korea will offer the U.S. as a year-end deadline for progress in nuclear talks with Washington approaches.

And one option for Kim could be firing a nuclear-capable intermediate-range ballistic missile over Japan.

"If negotiations with the U.S. go south, there is a strong possibility of more flagrant provocations in the new year — such as another IRBM test over Japan's airspace," said J. Berkshire Miller, a senior fellow at the Japan Institute of International Affairs in Tokyo.