America clings to optimism; Kim Jong Un keeps improving his arsenal.
IT HAD BEEN a hopeful start to the week. After months of deadlock, North Korea announced on October 1st that its nuclear negotiators would meet their American counterparts for working-level talks later in the week. Even when North Korea set the scene for the talks just hours later by testing a new nuclear-capable intermediate-range missile that can be launched from a submarine (debris from which landed in Japanese waters), the mood barely soured. It looked as though the two sides, meeting in Sweden, might at last be ready to make progress on a deal that has eluded them since Donald Trump, America's president, first met Kim Jong Un, North Korea's dictator, in Singapore in June 2018.