North Korea's Kim Yong-chol on way to Washington

South Korea's government sent out emergency alerts on Sunday to warn about the high dust levels expected yesterday

"As a result, North Korea has neared the time when it could credibly do so", it says.

There has been little obvious progress since, however, which was underlined by the Missile Defense Review announced yesterday.

Top diplomats of South Korea and China in charge of North Korea nuclear negotiations met in Seoul on Thursday and agreed to "cooperate" for progress on the Korean Peninsula, according to local reports.

Victor Cha, a former White House adviser on Asia under President George W. Bush, suggested that Trump may be so desperate for a policy "win" that he could be vulnerable to a bad deal with North Korea.

The meeting was initially planned for last week but was postponed to later this week as the partial U.S. government shutdown, which began on December 22, continues, a ministry official said.

"Even if the missile only have a 50% chance of hitting a major United States city, that's enough to establish a modicum of deterrence", Reif added.

In a recent interview, Pompeo said: "Reducing the threat from North Korea, whether that's by our success to date in stopping their missile testing, stopping their nuclear testing - those are the important elements".

"The review does look at the comprehensive environment that the United States faces and our allies and partners face and it does posture forces to be prepared for the capabilities that now exist and that anticipate in the future", the official said.

Kim Yong Chol, Pyongyang's lead negotiator in denuclearization talks with the United States, was due to meet Pompeo on Friday, a person familiar with the plan said, the first major sign of potential movement in a diplomatic effort that has appeared stalled for months.

His visit to the U.S., where he may meet with Pompeo, comes as plans are underway for a second Trump-Kim summit, possibly in Vietnam.

But Kim Jong Un also warned the communist state may be forced to seek "a new way" if Washington continues to press with economic sanctions aimed at punishing the regime for its nuclear weapons development.

Who is Kim Yong-chol?

Friday's meeting in Washington was key to taking the North Koreans' temperature ahead of a second summit and see if such a meeting would be productive, a USA official told ABC News. The two met for two hours in the White House.

Kim Yong Chol and Pompeo, with tight smiles, posed together for photographs at a Washington hotel before holding about 45 minutes of talks that could help determine whether the two sides can make headway.

Trump and Kim pledged at their first summit, in Singapore in June, to work towards denuclearisation "of the Korean peninsula".

After years of nuclear and ballistic missile tests through 2017, North Korea hasn't conducted a similar test for more than a year.

"While the president is promising dialogue with Chairman Kim, we still await concrete steps by North Korea to dismantle the nuclear weapons that threaten our people and our allies in the region", Pence said in an address to USA ambassadors and other senior American diplomats at the State Department. The video says North Korea has 15 nuclear weapons.

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