Negotiations were to begin again Saturday in Stockholm, despite the launch by North Korea of a new ballistic missile.
Seven months will have been necessary to overcome failure. After the unsuccessful February summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Hanoi, Vietnam, the two sides will finally restart negotiations.
The meeting is being held in Stockholm, Sweden, a country that maintains diplomatic relations with North Korea and which serves, de facto, as US representation in Pyongyang. Both had already been there in January, as part of preparations for the Hanoi summit. After a handshake Friday, October 4, the discussions must officially enter the thick of the subject Saturday.
Sign of the North Korean distrust, the announcement of this recovery, the 1st October was immediately followed by the launch on Wednesday of a new strategic ballistic sea-to-surface missile (MSBS) Pukguksong-3, which can be fired from a submarine. The machine would have traveled about 450 km at a maximum altitude of about 910 km. Pyongyang has carried out a dozen missile attacks since the failure of the Hanoi summit. This time it was the first test of MSBS since August 2016.
This shot was presented by the North Korean official agency KCNA as "Of great importance because it is a new step forward to contain external threats" and "To further strengthen the military power of self-defense". A missile of this nature could indeed expand Pyongyang's radius of action beyond the peninsula. It would also allow North Korea to have a "second strike" capability in case of attacks against its land sites.
Negotiations were blocked despite "Beautiful letters" Kim Jong-un received by Donald Trump and including an invitation to visit Pyongyang in August that could be raised in Stockholm. The meeting on June 30 in the demilitarized zone (DMZ) separating the two Koreas, during which Donald Trump became the first American president in office to enter North Korea, had also failed to relaunch discussions.
Pyongyang refused, reproaching the United States for their demands on the nuclear issue. Washington wants to achieve a denuclearization "Complete, verifiable and irreversible" while Pyongyang wants to advance in stages, in exchange for a gradual lifting of the economic sanctions imposed on it. North Korea also strongly criticized the joint military maneuvers conducted in August by the Americans and South Koreans. She considers these exercises as a repetition of her possible invasion.