North Korea says it is now a nuclear state. Could that be said that he is ready to speak?


But even if the North were now pointing out that it is open to such discussions, that the United States and its allies accept it could be politically impossible. It would mean a break from decades of non-proliferation policy, and could trigger a nuclear arms race in Northeast Asia.

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North Korea, Mr. Russel said, would demand sanctions, a form of "rescue" or "secret money," in exchange for a commitment to be less provocative.

Analysts in South Korea doubted that the North was signaling a willingness to discuss a freeze. Rather, they said, Pyongyang is bluffing to buy time, and will not be seriously interested in talks with Washington until it actually acquires the capabilities it claims to have, after further testing.

The North said its launch was of a new intercontinental ballistic missile called Hwasong-15, which it said could deliver "super-large and heavy" warheads anywhere in the continental United States. It flew higher and longer – at an altitude of 2,800 miles, and for 53 minutes – than the previous Hwasong-14 missile when the North tested it twice in July.

On Wednesday, state media outlets in North Korea released photos of Mr. Kim inspecting and celebrating the launch the day before. The missile experts said that the Hwasong-15 looked like the old Hwasong-14 North, but it seemed to have a more powerful second stage. North Korea has also deployed a new vehicle for launching and launching nine-axis missiles, according to the photographs.

But there are reasons to suspect that the North was exaggerating its capabilities. Although the missile flew high, the North did not send it away; spilled in waters only 600 miles from the launch site. Nor has the North shown that it has a warhead that can survive the intense heat and friction of re-entering Earth's atmosphere from space, a crucial technological obstacle.


President Moon Jae-In of South Korea emergency meeting of his National Security Council after the launch.

Yonhap, via Agence France-Presse – Getty Images

On a normal trajectory, a missile capable of flying 2,800 miles in space could fly far enough to reach New York and Washington from North Korea, missile experts said . But they said the North could have launched its missile this week with a very light simulated warhead or no payload, sending it farther than it could with a real warhead.

"North Korea is flaunting," said Chang Young-keun, a missile expert at Korea Aerospace University near Seoul, the capital of South Korea.

Mr. Kim boasted in recent months that his country was in the "final" stage of achieving all the capabilities of an intercontinental ballistic missile. Shin Beom-chul, a security expert from the National Diplomatic Academy of Korea, led by the government in Seoul, said the North needed to announce that it had done so before the end of the year. "What North Korea announced today was not a technical statement but a political one," he said.

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Even if the North were open to discussing a freeze, there has been no indication that the United States and its allies respond positively. Washington insists on a "complete, verifiable and irrevocable dismantling" of the North's nuclear arsenal.

Administration officials said there were no changes in policy after the launch. They said they were still badyzing data to determine how much of a technical advance it represented. And they pointed out other shortcomings in the Northern program, including their inability to launch a nuclear warhead, much less over long distances.

China, which expressed its "great concern and opposition" for the latest release, has continued to push for talks on a freeze. President Xi Jinping sent a special envoy to Pyongyang this month to urge Mr. Kim to consider it. But Mr. Kim did not even meet him, and he also insulted Peking by conducting his last missile test a few days after the envoy's departure.

There were no indications in the Security Council that China was willing to take additional measures. [19659019] Lee Sung-yoon, a Korean expert at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, said the North had much to gain from this point by provoking China and the United States.

"For Pyongyang, the way to get sanctions lifted is not by making concessions, but by resorting to further escalation," he said.

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