More than a year after the United States and North Korea initiated talks aimed at limiting Pyongyang's missile development programs and missile exports, U.S. and North Korean officials held a second round of talks June 11-13 in New York. The talks produced no agreements, but a senior administration official described the talks as businesslike, and said "they provide a good basis for further discussions," and possibly additional talks this summer. North Korea has been developing medium-range (about 1,000 kilometer) missiles that would allow it to strike all of South Korea and nearly all of Japan, and has sold Syria and Iran improved Scud missiles capable of delivering chemical or biological warheads.
The two sides first met to discuss the issue in April 1996, however, intervening events such as the submarine incident of September 1996 kept additional rounds of talks from being scheduled. The United States has linked North Korean performance on the missile issue with the improved political and economic relations mandated by the 1994 U.S.North Korean Agreed Framework that froze North Korea's nuclear weapons program.The U.S. delegation was led by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Non-Proliferation Robert Einhorn; his North Korean counterpart was Li Hyongchol, director of American affairs in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. A senior administration official said the U.S. goal was to get Pyongyang to practice restraint in its missile activities, but did not comment on specific options being discussed. Topics in the first round of talks included a request by Pyongyang for compensation for forgone missile sales, which was denied by the United States. Also discussed in April was the possibility of North Korea joining the Missile Technology Control Regime, a voluntary arrangement of nations who have adopted a common policy proscribing the sale of ballistic missiles and their components and technology, for systems capable of carrying a 500-kilogram payload 300 kilometers or more or for any system (other than manned aircraft) intended to carry weapons of mass destruction.