Korea, North

Flag of North Korea
  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. UN Imposes Further Sanctions after Provocations
Kim Jong Il and U.S. President Bush Engage in Diplomatic Roller Coaster

In Jan. 2002, President Bush described North Korea as part of an “axis of evil.” Such open hostility marked a dramatic shift in U.S. policy toward North Korea from the Clinton administration's policy of engagement.

North Korea stunned the world in late 2002 with two admissions. In September, the government acknowledged that it had kidnapped about a dozen Japanese in the 1970s and 1980s for the purposes of training North Korean spies. In October, confronted with U.S. intelligence, North Korea admitted that it had violated a 1994 agreement freezing its nuclear weapons program and had in fact been developing nuclear bombs. Since 2002, North Korea has vacillated between affirming and denying that it already has nuclear weapons.

In late Dec. 2002, North Korea expelled UN weapons inspectors from the country, and in Jan. 2003 announced that it was officially withdrawing from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). In July, North Korean officials reported that the country had reprocessed enough plutonium to build six nuclear bombs. Kim has regularly used threats and hostile acts to try to wring aid from the international community, but it was difficult to decipher how he expected to accomplish his aims—economic aid and a safeguard against U.S. attack—through such brinkmanship. Refusing to bow to North Korea's demands, the United States informed the nation's diplomats that it would not begin to negotiate until North Korea first dismantled its nuclear program. China took on the role of mediator between North Korea and the U.S., urging less inflexibility on both sides. Meetings between officials from the U.S., North Korea, China, Russia, South Korea, and Japan in 2003, 2004, and 2005 ended in deadlock.

In July 2006, North Korea launched seven missiles—the long-range Taepodong-2 missile (which failed) and six medium-range weapons—roiling its neighbors and much of the rest of the world. It was North Korea's first major weapons test in eight years. North Korea again sparked international outrage in October, when it tested a nuclear weapon. President Bush called the test a “threat to international peace and security” and called for sanctions against North Korea.

A breakthrough was finally reached in February 2007, when North Korea agreed to dismantle its nuclear facilities and allow international inspectors to enter the country in exchange for about $400 million in oil and aid. In July, the country followed up on the February agreement, shutting down its weapons-making nuclear reactor at Yongbyon. Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency verified the move. North Korea went a step further in October, announcing it would disable its nuclear facilities and disclose to international monitors an accounting of all of its nuclear programs by the end of 2007. It failed, however, to make the disclosure.

Next: North and South Korea Establish Closer Ties
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