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Korea, North

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Flag of North Korea
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
Uncertainty Surrounding Nuclear Program Continues

Hopes for an eventual denuclearized North Korea were raised again in May 2008, when the country turned over to U.S. officials about 18,000 pages of documents detailing its efforts in 1990, 2003, and 2005 to reprocess plutonium for nuclear weapons. It did not, however, hand over information on its uranium program and its efforts to sell nuclear material. The country went further in June, when it turned over to China a list of its nuclear facilities as well as information on the amount of reprocessed plutonium in its possession and destroyed a cooling tower at its main reactor in Yongbyon. The U.S., in turn, said it would remove North Korea from its list of countries that sponsor terrorism and lifted some sanctions against the country. In July, the U.S., China, North Korea, South Korea, Russia, and Japan announced another deal that will have international inspectors visiting North Korea's nuclear facilities to confirm that it has shut down its main processing facility at Yongbyon. In return, North Korea will receive financial and energy assistance.

The progress reached in the summer toward denuclearizing North Korea seemed to have ground to a halt by September as officials said they planned to restart the plutonium reprocessing plant at Yongbyon and banned UN inspectors from the plant. The move followed complaints by North Korean officials that the U.S. had not removed the country from its list of countries that sponsor terrorism and reports that President Kim had suffered a debilitating stroke, leaving many to wonder who is calling the shots in the reticent country. The diplomatic roller coaster continued its unpredictable course in October 2008, when the U.S. State Department removed North Korea from its list of state sponsors of terrorism after North Korea agreed to give international inspectors access to its nuclear plant at Yongbyon and to continue disabling its plutonium processing facility.

The slow dismantling of North Korea's nuclear program stalled in April 2009. On April 4, North Korea launched what it said was a satellite, but what other governments claimed was a test for a long-range missile. By all reliable accounts, the launch was a failure—the payload of the missile landed in the ocean. But the international community condemned the test. North Korea responded by dropping out of talks to end its nuclear program.

Two more weapons tests followed in quick succession: an underground nuclear test on May, 25, and a short-range missile test on May 29. The nuclear test was North Korea's second. International monitoring organizations said that it was more powerful than the previous blast, three years ago.

North Korea pardoned two imprisoned American journalists after former President Bill Clinton visited the country in August. Laura Ling and Euna Lee were arrested in March and sentenced in June to 12 years in prison for "illegal entry" into the country. Clinton agreed in late July to travel to North Korea on a humanitarian mission to save the two women.

Next: Tension Between North and South Reaches Crisis Point
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