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Korea, North

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Index
  1. Korea, North Main Page
  2. Partition of Korea Leads to War
  3. Famine Overshadows Nuclear Ambitions
  4. Secretive Government Opens Up in Exchange for Aid
  5. Kim Jong Il and U.S. President Bush Engage in Diplomatic Roller Coaster
  6. North and South Korea Establish Closer Ties
  7. Uncertainty Surrounding Nuclear Program Continues
  8. Tension Between North and South Reaches Crisis Point
  9. Kim Jong-il Dies
  10. Kim Jong-un Launches Satellite and Tests Nuclear Device, Testing International Patience
  11. North Korea Threatens U.S., South Korea with War
  12. Reported Leadership Shuffle Sparks Concern
  13. North Korea Fires Ballistic Missiles; Exchanges Fire with South Korea
Kim Jong-un Launches Satellite and Tests Nuclear Device, Testing International Patience

There was a sense of relief—as well as caution—in late February 2012 when North Korea announced it was suspending uranium enrichment at its processing facility in Yongbyon and halting tests of weapons and long-range missiles. In exchange, the U.S. said it would resume food aid to the impoverished nation. Observers speculated that Kim Jong-un might be attempting to win the favor of North Koreans with the infusion of food or beginning to chart a new path in foreign relations. Nevertheless, North Korea has made such promises in the past only to later renege. And renege it did. On April 12, the country attempted to launch a rocket carrying a satellite into orbit, but the rocket blew up seconds after the launch. The failure was an embarrassment to Kim Jong-un, who had just been honored with two new titles: leader of the national defense commission, the nation's most powerful government agency; and first secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea. The launch coincided with the celebration of the 100th birthday of North Korea's founder and Kim Jong-un's grandfather, Kim Il-sung. In response to the attempt, the U.S. suspended 240,000 tons of food aid to North Korea.

North Korea's next attempt to put a satellite into orbit was not a failure. The successful launch of the rocket on December 12 indicated that the country was inching closer toward developing the expertise to build an intercontinental ballistic missile. It also boosted Kim Jong-un's credibility both domestically and internationally, illustrating his seriousness in advancing the country's military capabilities. The launch took the world by surprise and was followed by another round of UN sanctions that were supported by China, which normally opposes such measures. Less than a week later, astronomers reported that the satellite was spinning in orbit, a sign that it had failed post-launch.

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