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Case Studies in Sanctions and Terrorism: North Korea

Case Studies in Sanctions and Terrorism

<< Case Studies Index

Case 50-1
US and UN v. North Korea
(1950–: Korean War)

Case 93-1
US and UN v. North Korea
(1993– : nuclear proliferation)

| Chronology of Key Events | Goals of Sender Country | Response to Target Country |
Attitude of Other Countries | Legal Notes | Economic Impact | Assessment |
Author's Summary | Bibliography |

Chronology of Key Events

25 June 1950

North Korean forces cross demilitarized zone, invade South Korea. (Evans 1985, 4)
30 June 1950 President Harry S. Truman orders naval blockade of Korean coast, imposes total trade embargo against North Korea. (Korea: A Chronology of Principal Events, 1945–50, World Today 6 (August 1950): 330; Evans 1985, 4)
Fall-Winter 1950 Chinese forces sporadically appear in Korea before intervening massively in late November to turn back General Douglas MacArthur's “final offensive.” (Dulles 1972, 99)
16 December 1950 Truman declares national emergency in connection with Korean War, invokes Trading with the Enemy Act to terminate all US economic contacts with North Korea. Truman also imposes embargo against China, freezes Chinese assets in US. Freeze also affects North Korean assets but these are thought to be negligible. (Garson 1971, 16–18, 25–27; New York Times, 17 December 1950, A1)
February 1951 UN resolution labels North Korea, China as aggressors in Korea. (Evans 1985, 5)
18 May 1951 UN General Assembly adopts resolution 47 to 0, with eight abstentions (Afghanistan, Egypt, Burma, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Sweden, Syria, with Soviet bloc countries not participating) recommending that member countries impose arms embargo against North Korea, China. Items covered are: arms, ammunition, implements of war, and items useful in their production; atomic energy materials; petroleum; transportation materials of strategic value. (New York Times, 19 May 1951, A3)
15 July 1951 Of 55 replies to UN concerning implementation of May resolution, 35 nations, including five nonmembers (West Germany, Italy, Spain, Vietnam, Laos), pledge complete support; eight Soviet bloc representatives (from the three Soviet republics plus Czechoslovakia, Poland, Romania, Albania, Hungary) reject resolution as illegal. (New York Times, 17 July 1951, A4)
September 1952 NATO (less Iceland but plus Japan) establishes CHINCOM (parallel organization to COCOM); embargo is imposed on all exports of industrial equipment, raw materials; additional restrictions apply to shipping, bunkering. (Doxey 1980, 17)
27 July 1953 Korean armistice is reached. US continues to prohibit all US economic contacts with North Korea in line with general strategic controls against China, Soviet bloc. (Dulles 1972, 137)


North Korea (DPRK) signs the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), but refuses to allow international inspections of nuclear facilities until the United States withdraws tactical nuclear weapons from South Korea. The NPT requires the signing of a safeguards agreement providing for inspection within 18 months of accession. (Washington Post, 18 June 1993, A25)
31 October 1988 South Korean and US ease isolation of North Korea by opening bilateral dialogue and allowing limited export of goods to the North for humanitarian purposes. Some travel restrictions are also lifted on a case-by-case basis. (US Department of State, Background Notes—North Korea, 1996)
1989 North Korea shuts down 5 megawatt (MW) reactor at Yongbyon for 100 days. US intelligence sources report North Korea has refueled the reactor and that materials that could be used to produce nuclear weapons may have been diverted. (US Department of State, Background Notes—North Korea, 1996)
15 April 1991 The Soviet Union threatens to cut off nuclear supplies and cooperation if North Korea does not allow international inspections of nuclear facilities. (Washington Post, 16 April 1991, A13)
Late 1991 US announces it is withdrawing tactical nuclear weapons from South Korea (ROK) in a global redeployment of such weapons to US territory. On December 31, North and South Korea sign Joint Declaration on the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, which forbids the manufacture, possession, or use of nuclear weapons, and the maintenance of nuclear fuel reprocessing facilities. (US Department of State, Background Notes—North Korea, 1996; Washington Post, 6 July 1994, A17; CSIS 1994, Appendix B, 1)
January 1992 In an effort to improve relations with North Korea, the ROK announces suspension of the "Team Spirit" military training exercise normally conducted each year in conjunction with US forces stationed in South Korea. On January 22, US Undersecretary of State Arnold Kanter and Korean Workers' Party Secretary Kim Yong Sun hold the first of a series of bilateral talks. The meeting focuses on the future of US–North Korean relations and unification issues on the peninsula. On January 30, North Korea says it will sign a safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency and allow regular inspections. (US Department of State, Background Notes—North Korea, 1996; CSIS 1994, Appendix B, 2)
19 March 1992 The two Koreas formally sign agreement to establish a Joint Nuclear Control Committee (JNCC) and begin negotiations on reciprocal bilateral inspections. (CSIS 1994, Appendix B, 2)
April/May 1992 North Korea ratifies safeguards agreement on April 7; IAEA inspections begin in May. In preparation for the inspections, North Korea provides IAEA with information on its nuclear program, revealing a previously undisclosed reprocessing facility and that they had reprocessed some fuel producing "a little bit of plutonium for experimental purposes." (CSIS 1994, Appendix B, 2; Washington Post, 6 May 1992, A11)
Fall 1992 Responding to lack of progress in JNCC discussions, US and ROK decide to conduct Team Spirit exercise next year; North Korea refuses to negotiate bilateral inspections unless Team Spirit is cancelled. (Christian Science Monitor, 22 October 1992, 8)
End January 1993 US and South Korea confirm that Team Spirit will proceed as planned; North Korea ends all negotiations and communications with South. (Associated Press, 31 January 1993)
February 1993 IAEA suspects there may be a discrepancy between declared and actual volumes of plutonium extracted from reprocessed fuel; for first time in its history it formally requests "special inspections" of two undeclared sites at Yongbyon believed to be nuclear waste sites. On February 25, IAEA Board of Governors sets a one-month deadline for compliance with the special inspection request. (CSIS 1994, Appendix B, 2; Washington Post, 27 April 1993, A1)
8–12 March 1993 Team Spirit begins; North Korea formally rejects special inspection request, then announces its withdrawal from the NPT, which no country has ever done. US Secretary of State Warren Christopher raises possibility of UN economic sanctions in response. (Oxford Analytica Daily Brief, 18 March 1993; 4 May 1993; Washington Post, 27 April 1993, A1)
1–2 April 1993 IAEA declares North Korea not in compliance with its safeguards agreement and refers problem to UN Security Council. (CSIS 1994, Appendix B, 2)
April 1993 North Korea rebuffs Chinese efforts to persuade Pyongyang to suspend its withdrawal from the NPT. Reports claim that North Korea sealed its northern border and opened fire on Chinese border patrols. (Washington Post, 28 April 1993, A13)
11 May 1993 The UN Security Council passes a resolution urging North Korea to abide by the terms of the 1991 Korean peninsula denuclearization agreement. (Washington Post, 9 May 1993, A28; US Department of State, Background Notes—North Korea, 1996)
11 June 1993 Pyongyang reverses its decision to pull out of the NPT after the United States agrees to participate in high-level bilateral talks, but continues to refuse IAEA access to its nuclear facilities. (Washington Post, 12 June 1993, A1)
10 July 1993 President Bill Clinton, during a visit to the South Korean side of the DMZ, warns the United States would respond to North Korean use of nuclear weapons with massive conventional or nuclear retaliation. (Washington Post, 13 April 1995, A1)
19 July 1993 During bilateral negotiations in Geneva, US agrees in principle to support a North Korean request for several light-water reactors in exchange for compliance with IAEA inspections. (Washington Post, 13 April 1995, A1; US Department of State, Background Notes—North Korea, 1996)
3 August 1993 In accordance with the agreement reached in July, North Korea readmits IAEA inspectors, but denies access to suspect nuclear facilities. (Washington Post, 17 August 1993, A15)
16 August 1993 US rejects bilateral negotiations with North Korea until it allows inspection of suspect nuclear sites and resumes dialogue with South Korea. The following day North Korean formally invites the IAEA to begin talks over the date and terms of future inspections. Two months later, North Korea reverses course and demands direct negotiations with the US. (Keesing’s 39597-39598; 39689)
1 November 1993 The General Assembly passes a resolution 140-1, with only North Korea opposed and nine countries—including China—abstaining, praising the IAEA for its impartiality and urging North Korea to cooperate with it. During the debate, the US delegate tells the Assembly that unless North Korea allows the inspections to resume, it will bring the issue before the UN Security Council to consider imposing sanctions. The Chinese delegate opposes sanctions, saying the dispute should be resolved through diplomacy. (Washington Post, 2 November 1993, A15; Financial Times, 11 November 1993, 4)
December 1993 The IAEA, backed by the Clinton administration, refuses a North Korean offer to allow inspections of some of its nuclear facilities with inspections of the others coming only after the US and North Korea have agreed on a "package solution" providing diplomatic and economic concessions to North Korea. IAEA Director General Hans Blix informs the Board of Governors that North Korea's refusal to allow regular inspections, including the replacement of batteries and film in the cameras that monitor nuclear facilities, threatens the IAEA's ability to ensure that North Korea is not diverting fuel for weapons purposes. (CSIS 1994, Appendix B, 3; Washington Post, 5 November 1993, A33; 6 December 1993, A8; New York Times, 10 December 1993, A6; National Journal, 11 December 1993, 2946)
27 December 1993 Chinese officials tell UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali that they will oppose the imposition of sanctions against North Korea over the nuclear issue. Boutros-Ghali agrees with Chinese officials that the United States and its allies should concentrate on finding a diplomatic solution to the crisis. (Washington Post, 28 December 1993, A9)
29 December 1993 US and North Korean negotiators, by telephone and with no written statement, conclude a vague agreement in which North Korea says it will take “steps necessary to assure the continuity of inspections,” with the details to be worked out between North Korea and the IAEA. North Korea continues to insist that it will accept full-scope safeguards and inspections only as part of a package deal. (Sigal 1998a, 98–99)
January 1994 The IAEA rejects the deal demanding that North Korea allow full inspections and not limit them to restoring monitoring capability and ensuring that no diversion has occurred since the last inspection. US officials backtrack, saying “If the IAEA is unhappy, we are unhappy.” (Sigal 1998a, 100–01; New York Times, 5 January 1994, A1; Financial Times, 24 January 1994, 4)
Late January/early February 1994 US officials in Washington let it be known they are considering transferring Patriot missiles to South Korea as a defensive move. In Seoul, a Defense Ministry official calls for the resumption of Team Spirit unless the North agrees to full nuclear inspections. The US warns North Korea that unless it allows IAEA inspections by February 21, at which time the IAEA is expected to declare the continuity of safeguards broken, it will bring a sanctions resolution before the Security Council. South Korea expresses concern about the setting of a deadline for imposing sanctions, which North Korea has said would be considered an act of war. (Sigal 1998a, 100–01; New York Times, 5 January 1994, A1; Financial Times, 24 January 1994, 4; Financial Times, 3 February 1994, 4)
8 February 1994 South Korean President Kim Young Sam holds a meeting of national security advisers in which deployment of the Patriot missiles is postponed indefinitely. (Sigal 1998a, 104)
9 February 1994 In meetings with French and British diplomats, Chinese UN delegates refuse to coordinate with the other permanent members of the Security Council to increase pressure on North Korea. (Washington Post, 10 February 1994, A24)
15 February 1994 The IAEA and North Korea agree to inspections of seven declared nuclear sites for the purpose of verifying that no nuclear material has been diverted since the last inspections; North Korea still refuses to allow special inspections of two undeclared sites at Yongbyon. North Korea conditions inspections on a third-round of high-level talks with the US and cancellation of Team Spirit for 1994, but US says it will consider those concessions only after the inspectors have completed their work. Many analysts attribute North Korea's sudden reversal to a fear of sanctions; others to the IAEA’s willingness to accept less than full inspections. (CSIS, Appendix B, 3; New York Times, 16 February 1994, A1; Sigal 1998a, 104)
22 February 1994 The IAEA displays US intelligence satellite photographs that show a pipeline built to ship nuclear material from a plutonium reprocessing plant to a military installation that had not been declared a nuclear site. (Washington Post, 26 June 1994, C7)
1 March 1994 IAEA inspections of the declared sites begin after a two-week delay due to North Korea's holding up of visas for the inspectors and additional threats of UN sanctions if the visas were not issued by the end of the month. The US suspends Team Spirit for this year and will resume high-level political talks with North Korea on March 21. (CSIS 1994, Appendix B, 3; Washington Post, 26 February 1994, A16; 4 March 1994, A1)
Mid-March 1994 North Korea refuses to allow IAEA inspectors into all of its declared nuclear facilities. IAEA calls on the UN Security Council to enforce compliance; US cancels scheduled bilateral talks in Geneva. North Korea breaks-off negotiations with Seoul over diplomatic cooperation. (Washington Post, 13 April 1995, A1; 19 March 1994, A16)
31 March 1994 The UN Security Council issues appeal to North Korea to cooperate with IAEA inspectors. The United States had originally submitted a harsher resolution to the Council but was blocked by Chinese opposition to language that would imply the imposition of sanctions and a deadline for compliance. (Washington Post, 1 April 1994, A27; Sigal 1998a, 108)
21 April 1994 Defense Secretary William Perry visits South Korea and Japan pledging continued American military support in the event of an outbreak of hostilities with the north and warning that North Korea's refusal to suspend its nuclear program could lead to UN sanctions. The United States sends military equipment including Patriot anti-missile systems and prepares to bolster its troops on the peninsula. South Korea agrees to drop its bid for direct North-South talks as a condition for future rounds of bilateral US–North Korean negotiations in Geneva and agrees to postpone a decision on Team Spirit. (Washington Post, 13 April 1995, A1; 22 May 1994, C7; 25 January 1995, A4; Sigal 1998a, 110–11)
April 1994 North Korea notifies IAEA it will begin removing spent fuel rods from its 5MW research reactor within a few weeks. US and South Korea announce they will resume Team Spirit exercise in November, unless negotiations with the North make progress. North Korea unilaterally withdraws from the Military Armistice Commission (MAC) that had governed the cease-fire on the Korean peninsula since July 1953. Pyongyang persuades Beijing to remove its representatives from the MAC in September. (US Department of State, Background Notes—North Korea, 1996)
3 May 1994 In a speech to the Asia Society, Secretary of Defense Perry rules out military pressure because of the “risk of large-scale war,” but warns North Korea that if it refuses to allow the IAEA to monitor the removal of the spent fuel rods, “the issue would return to the United Nations, where the United States and others would consider appropriate steps, including sanctions.” (Cited in Sigal 1998a, 112–13)
Mid-May 1994 North Korea begins removal of fuel rods from 5MW reactor, allows IAEA inspectors to complete the inspections thwarted in March, but does not allow them to inspect a sample of the fuel rods being removed. The IAEA charges North Korea with a "serious violation" of its NPT obligations for beginning the fuel rod removal without inspectors present and demands that it halt the removal immediately. Inspection of the rods would provide information on the amount of fuel removed for reprocessing and the amount of plutonium extracted in the past. In addition, the fuel, if reprocessed, might yield enough plutonium for four to five nuclear bombs. (CSIS 1994, Appendix B, 4; Washington Post, 20 May 1994, A1)
30 May 1994 The UN Security Council approves a non-binding resolution urging North Korea to submit its nuclear program to IAEA inspections. (Washington Post, 31 May 1994, A13)
1 June 1994 The IAEA officially informs the UN that North Korea's continued removal of the fuel rods has reached the point at which it is now impossible to determine whether fuel had been diverted in the past. US announces it will seek economic sanctions against North Korea. China remains opposed to sanctions, however, and Japan does not want to include restrictions on remittances sent from Koreans in Japan to relatives in North Korea in first phase of sanctions, as has been suggested by the Clinton administration. North Korea threatens Japan with "deserving punishment" if it cooperates with economic sanctions. (CSIS 1994, Appendix B, 4; Wall Street Journal, 2 June 1994, A3; Washington Post, 10 June 1994, A1)
7 June 1994 Without opportunity to inspect the fuel rods from North Korea's 5MW reactor, the only possibility of reconstructing North Korea's past nuclear activities is to inspect the two undeclared sites at Yongbyon, but North Korea's delegate to the IAEA declares that his government's policy remains unchanged and that it "will never allow inspections" of those two sites. (Washington Post, 8 June 1994, A25)
8 June 1994 South Korean Foreign Minister Han Sung-Joo fails to persuade China to support international sanctions against Pyongyang after meeting with senior PRC officials. Chinese Foreign Minister Qian Qichen reiterates his country’s opposition to sanctions and urges continued dialogue. (Financial Times, 9 June 1994, 6)
11 June 1994 Choi Kwang, the Chief of Staff of the North Korean army, meets with senior Chinese officials in Beijing, including President Jiang Zemin. While both sides publicly reaffirm the friendship between the two countries, reports surface that Chinese officials warned their North Korean counterparts in closed-door meetings against pushing too far on the nuclear issue. In Seoul, Japanese, US, and Korean diplomats agree to support the US-proposed sanctions being debated in the UN Security Council. (Washington Post, 17 June 1994, A20)
12 June 1994 Chinese Foreign Minister Qian Qichen promises his Japanese counterpart, Koji Kakizawa, that China will play a constructive role in the Korean nuclear issue, but will oppose UN sanctions; he claims that economic measures would be counterproductive. (Washington Post, 13 June 1994, A14)
12–13 June 1994 The IAEA ends technical assistance for North Korea; North Korea orders expulsion of IAEA inspectors and announces it is withdrawing from the IAEA. (CSIS 1994, Appendix B, 5)
15 June 1994 The US circulates a draft UN Security Council resolution to gradually phase in trade and diplomatic sanctions against North Korea. The first phase, which would take effect after 30 days, would end cultural, scientific, and technical cooperation, as well as economic and other assistance from UN agencies, and impose a ban on arms trade. The second phase would ban financial transactions, including remittances from Japan. In deference to China, the US does not propose early resort to a trade embargo. (CSIS 1994, Appendix B, 5; Wall Street Journal, 16 June 1994, A12; New York Times, 16 June 1994, A1)
16 June 1994 Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev says Russia cannot support a set of sanctions on which it was not consulted. After a meeting with North Korean President Kim Il Sung, former US President Jimmy Carter reports that Kim has promised to allow the IAEA inspectors to stay and monitor the ongoing removal of fuel rods. In return, Carter urges the Clinton administration to drop its push for sanctions and to resume high-level talks with North Korea. In Washington, the US Senate passes a resolution 93 to 3 sponsored by Senators Robert Dole (R-KS) and John McCain (R-AZ) expressing frustration with North Korea's refusal to suspend its nuclear weapons program and urging the Clinton administration to bolster its forces in South Korea. (Washington Post, 17 June 1994, A1; New York Times, 17 June 1994, A1)
22 June 1994 President Clinton announces that North Korea has agreed to "freeze" its nuclear program—not refueling the research reactor and not reprocessing the fuel removed—in return for resumption of high-level talks beginning July 8 and suspension of the push for sanctions. North Korea also agrees to allow IAEA inspections and monitoring of the freeze. (Washington Post, 23 June 1994, A1)
24 June 1994 A Russian journalist discloses a 1990 KGB report written to senior Soviet leaders that charges that North Korea had already developed a "nuclear explosive device" by early that year. The report contradicts Russian officials who oppose UN sanctions based on the claim that North Korea is not near to completing a nuclear weapons program. The report further charges that Kim Jong Il, son of President Kim Il Sung, was personally in charge of the development project. (Washington Post, 24 June 1994, A17)
7 July 1994 Assistant Secretary of State Robert Galucci leads a US delegation to Geneva to begin talks with North Korean counterparts on the details of the agreement worked out by former US President Carter and DPRK President Kim Il Sung. (Washington Post, 8 July 1994, A17)
9 July 1994 Long-time North Korean leader Kim Il Sung dies; bilateral US–North Korean talks in Geneva are suspended with negotiations scheduled to resume August 5. (Washington Post, 13 April 1995, A1; Keesing’s 40099)
21 October 1994 US and North Korean officials sign an "Agreed Framework" under which North Korea agrees to freeze and eventually eliminate its existing nuclear program under IAEA supervision in exchange for the construction of two light water reactors (LWR) worth $4.5 billion. The framework also provides for easing of restrictions on diplomatic and trade relations with the United States and delays the inspection of two suspected nuclear waste sites until a “significant portion” of the LWR project is completed but before the delivery of nuclear components. The United States also agrees to arrange the shipment of 500,000 tons of oil per year to make up for the energy supplies allegedly lost by shutting down North Korea’s reactors. (Washington Post, 19 October 1994, A1; Congressional Research Service (CRS), 8–13)
December 1994 North Korea unilaterally lifts nearly all restrictions on commerce with the United States. (Washington Post, 21 January 1995, A11)
20 January 1995 Clinton administration relaxes travel, communications, and some trade restrictions but leaves in place "about 99 percent" of the sanctions under the Trading With the Enemy Act. A State Department statement links further relaxation of trade restrictions to North Korean progress on nuclear and other issues of US concern. (Washington Post, 21 January 1995, A11)
11 April 1995 The United States and North Korea establish direct telephone and fax links and US allows the import of North Korean magnesite. US State Department recommends fuller implementation of the sanctions-related provisions of the 1994 agreement, but White House officials delay further steps because of Congressional opposition. (Washington Post, 16 April 1995, C1)
30 January 1996 North Korea agrees to allow the IAEA to inspect all of its declared nuclear facilities as pledged under the 1994 agreement. (Financial Times, 31 January 1996, 6)
17 June 1998 North Korea admits it is selling missiles, states that it will continue to develop, test and export ballistic missiles. (Washington Post, 17 June 1998, A1, A21)
15 July 1998 GAO reports IAEA “is confident” that operations at facilities covered by the framework agreement “have been frozen,” as promised by North Korea. But the agency is concerned that its inspectors have not been given access to nuclear waste sites, which could hamper their ability to reconstruct the history of North Korea’s nuclear activities and make it impossible to determine how much plutonium North Korea may be hiding. North Korea argues it is cooperating fully and is not required to allow access to the waste sites until later in the phased implementation of the agreement. (New York Times, 15 July 1998, A10; International Herald Tribune, 16 July 1998, 4; GAO 1998, 2)
26 August 1998 US voices suspicion about underground facilities near Yongbyon, asks for clarification by North Korea. (Financial Times, 26 August 1998, 5)
31 August 1998 North Korea test-fires medium-range ballistic missile. Timing of test coincides with talks in New York on implementation of the framework agreement. North Korea wants to pressure US into lifting of economic sanctions and wants to be compensated for lost missile sales if it stops missile trade. (Washington Post, 1 September 1998, A15; New York Times, 1 September 1998, A6; 2 September 1998, A4)
1 September 1998 Japan suspends talks to establish diplomatic ties with North Korea, food aid, and financing for two nuclear reactors in cooperation with US and South Korea. Missile-test heavily criticized by US Congress. (Washington Post, 2 September 1998, A19)
September 1998 Congress cuts funding for implementation of 1994 agreement because of missile test and discovery of underground facility not covered by the 1994 agreement. (Washington Post, 11 September 1998, A25)
20 November 1998 High-level State Department delegation is denied access to underground site. Agreed Framework restricts North Korea from nuclear activities at Yongbyon, but US officials state that confidential minutes ban North Korea from construction of Yongbyon-type facilities elsewhere in North Korea. North Korea’s demand for $300 million to compensate for inspections is rejected. (Washington Post, 20 November 1998, A1, A52; Financial Times, 19 November 1998, 6)
13 January 1999 US Defense Secretary warns that North Korea must allow inspections of the underground facility or risk losing financial aid for the two nuclear reactors. (International Herald Tribune, 13 January 1999, 4)
17 March 1999 US and North Korea reach an agreement over repeated US inspection of the underground site. First inspection is scheduled for May, next inspection a year later. State Department spokesman James Rubin insists that there is no link between food aid and inspection agreement, however US supplies 500,000 tons of food through the UN’s World Food Programme. South Korea welcomes the agreement and states it is prepared to send fertilizer to the North to assist in dealing with severe famine. US and North Korea also agree to resume talks on missile production and missile proliferation. (International Herald Tribune, 17 March 1999, 1; Financial Times, 18 March 1999, 6)
23 June 1999 US inspection teams conclude that underground complex in Kumchangri is an empty tunnel and not intended for making nuclear weapons. (New York Times, 23 June 1999, A6; 24 June 1999, A6; USIS, 25 June 1999)
August 1999 North Korea is preparing to test a new long-range missile that experts believe could reach Alaska or Hawaii. US warns North Korea of possible economic and diplomatic sanctions if the Taepodong 2 launch takes place. Japan announces it is considering blocking cash remittances to North Korea, which could affect $600 million to $1 billion in annual transfers. South Korean Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade announces that Seoul will halt or reduce business with the North should it test the missile. (Financial Times, 5 August 1999, 6; New York Times, 9 August 1999, A6)
18 August 1999 North Korea announces it is willing to negotiate with “hostile nations” like the US, South Korea and Japan over missile tests. The statement is the first conciliatory gesture in the month-long conflict. (New York Times, 19 August 1999, A5)
2 September 1999 Japanese Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi indicates Japan is prepared to lift sanctions and provide economic assistance to North Korea if it takes a constructive approach, saying “If North Korea freezes its plan to fire another missile it will be possible for Japan, the US and South Korea to move forward relations with North Korea positively.” (Financial Times, 3 September 1999, 4)
17 September 1999 In response to North Korea’s assurances that it will suspend missile testing while negotiating a more permanent deal on missile testing, President Clinton announces relaxation of restrictions on trade in consumer goods, remittances and transfer of funds from US nationals to North Koreans, and transportation restrictions. Restrictions associated with North Korea’s designation as a state sponsor of terrorism and nonproliferation controls on exports of sensitive military items and dual-use items remain in place. (USIS, 17 September 1999; New York Times, 14 September 1999, A12; 18 September 1999, A1)
25 September 1999 For first time, North Korea publicly announces that it will refrain from further missile tests while talks with the US on normalization of relations are underway, but it demands that US end all sanctions and makes clear that the moratorium on testing missiles is temporary. (New York Times, 25 September 1999, A7; 26 September 1999, 10)
7 March 2000 Japan resumes food aid to North Korea and reopens talks on normalizing relations shortly after. (Washington Post, 8 March 2000, A24; Financial Times, 14 March 2000, 10)
14 April 2000 US imposes new but largely symbolic sanctions on North Korean companies and the government for “knowingly engaging in export of military technology transfers” in violation of the MTCR. State Department Spokesman James Rubin states that “addressing the causes that have led to these sanctions are an additional hurdle that must be cleared if we are to improve economic and trade relations.” (Associated Press, 14 April 2000, USIS, 14 April 2000)
13–15 June 2000 For first time since Korean War, leaders of South and North Korea meet. South Korean President Kim Dae Jung and North Korean ruler Kim Jong Il sign an agreement calling for family reunions, economic cooperation, social and cultural exchanges and follow-up governmental contacts between the North and South to ease tensions. Japan and US welcome the accord. (Washington Post, 15 June 2000, A1; New York Times, 15 June 2000, A1)
19 June 2000 Implementing regulations for relaxation of sanctions announced in September 1999 are issued. North Korean assets will remain frozen and sanctions imposed because of North Korea’s status as a state sponsor of terrorism and nonproliferation export controls also remain in place. (USIS, 19 June 2000; Wall Street Journal, 20 June 2000, A18)
10–12 July 2000 Talks between US and North Korea to end missile exports end in deadlock over North Korean demand for compensation of $1 billion annually. (Washington Post, 13 July 2000, A20; 20 July 2000, A16)
Summer/Fall 2000 Series of high-level diplomatic meetings culminate in visit by Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to North Korea in late Octobers, including six hour meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il. (New York Times, 29 July 2000, A16; 11 October 2000, A3; 23 October 2000, A4; 25 October 2000, A1)
March 2001 South Korean President Kim Dae Jung visits Washington to meet with newly elected President George W. Bush. Bush administration takes harder line, rejects early resumption of negotiations with North Korea and announces full review of relationship with North Korea. (USIS, 7 March 2001; Washington Post, 8 March 2001, A1)
3 May 2001 In meetings with EU delegation in North Korea, Kim Jong Il states he will unilaterally extend the moratorium on missile testing until 2003, but refuses to stop exporting missiles and missile technology. Except for Ireland and France, all EU members have established diplomatic ties with North Korea in last two years. (Washington Post, 4 May 2001, A1, A21; New York Times, 5 May 2001, A4)
6 June 2001 President Bush announces completion of policy review and resumption of negotiations with North Korea. However, the administration is seeking a more comprehensive agreement with North Korea including improved implementation of the Agreed Framework, verifiable constraints on missile program, end to missile exports as well as reduction of conventional military forces in exchange for improved relations. North Korea rejects US demands. (New York Times, 7 June 2001, A1; 3 July 2001, A7; Financial Times, 8 June 2001, 4; White House Press Release, 6 June 2001)
29 January 2002 In State of the Union address, President Bush singles out Iran, Iraq and North Korea as the “axis of evil” for their pursuit of weapons of mass destruction, but indicates that it remains open to talks with North Korea. North Korea denounces US accusations and declares that remarks “made clearer the US intention to violate the sovereignty of [North Korea]”. (Washington Post, 30 January 2002, A1; 2 February 2002, A19; Financial Times, 24 February 2002, 4)
1 April 2002 For first time, White House does not certify that North Korea is complying with its commitments under 1994 agreement, but waives the certification for national security reasons and releases $95 million for KEDO. US wants IAEA inspections of other undeclared sites agreed upon in the 1994 pact to begin soon, while North Korea maintains that construction of light-water reactors, which is behind schedule, has not progressed enough to justify inspections. (USIS, 3 April 2002; Washington Post, 30 March 2002, A8)
1 July 2002 Economist reports that North Korea is implementing economic reforms. (Economist, 27 July 2002, 24–26)
31 July 2002 Secretary of State Powell meets North Korean Foreign Minister Paek Nam Sun for a 15-minute informal conversation at ASEAN summit in Brunei. Meeting is the first high-level contact between two countries since Bush administration took office. (New York Times, 31 July 2002, A6; Wall Street Journal, 31 July 2002, A13)
8 August 2002 Construction of the light water nuclear power plant in North Korea begins. US officials warn that North Korea must agree to IAEA inspections to receive critical parts for the plant. (Washington Post, 8 August 2002, A12; New York Times, 8 August 2002, A9)
23 August 2002 Bush administration again imposes symbolic sanctions on North Korean companies and government for violating the MTCR and selling missile components to Yemen. (New York Times, 23 August 2002, A1; Washington Post, 23 August 2002, A20)
17 September 2002 Prime Minister Koizumi is first Japanese head of state to visit North Korea. During one day meeting Kim Jong-Il apologizes for abduction of 12 Japanese citizens in the 1970s and 1980s, the intrusion by North Korean spy ships into Japanese waters and also extends the moratorium on missile tests indefinitely. (Financial Times, 18 October 2002, 13)
16 October 2002 The Bush administration discloses that, after being confronted with evidence from US intelligence, North Korea admitted to US Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly that it has been developing a secret uranium enrichment program for the past several years. US calls on North Korea to comply with all its commitments under the NPT and suspends bilateral talks on improving economic and political ties. (Washington Post, 17 October 2002, A1; New York Times, 17 October 2002, A8; USIS, 16 October 2002)
21 October 2002 North Korea states that it is willing to negotiate with the US over the country’s nuclear program if “the United State is willing to withdraw its hostile policy toward the North.” Bush administration declares that it will not negotiate until the nuclear program is verifiably dismantled. Japan announces it will stop financing for two LWRs and suspend talks on normalizing relations if North Korea does not end its nuclear program. (New York Times, 22 October 2002, A6; Wall Street Journal, 22 October 2002, A16; Washington Post, 25 October 2002, A26)
23 October 2002 Bush administration reveals that previously scheduled delivery of heavy fuel oil to North Korea took place despite North Korean revelations. US officials state that US will not formally renounce the 1994 agreement without making an effort to “ensure that we are in lockstep with our northeast Asian allies.” (Washington Post, 23 October 2002, A21)
25 October 2002 During a visit in Texas, Chinese President Jiang Zemin declares that China will work with the US to persuade North Korea to abandon its nuclear program. (New York Times, 26 October 2002, A8)
26 October 2002 At the APEC summit meeting in Mexico, US, Japan and South Korea issue a joint statement demanding that North Korea dismantle its nuclear program “in a prompt and verifiable manner and to come into full compliance with all its international commitments.” Statement stops short of directly threatening economic sanctions. (New York Times, 27 October 2002, 1; Financial Times, 28 October 2002, 6)
30 October 2002 Japanese–North Korean talks in Kuala Lumpur end without agreement. North Korea insists on direct negotiations with the US. Under US pressure, Japan warns North Korea that billions of economic assistance promised by Prime Minister Koizumi last month were conditional on dismantlement of its nuclear program. (Financial Times, 31 October 2002, 4; New York Times, 31 October 2002, A13)
5 November 2002 North Korea threatens to end its freeze on missile tests if negotiations with Japan on normalizing relations, a precondition for Japanese economic aid, fail to progress. (New York Times, 6 November 2002, A15; Financial Times, 6 November 2002, 6)
14 November 2002 Executive board of KEDO—consisting of Japan, US, EU, and South Korea—announces that fuel oil shipments to North Korea will be suspended in December. Move comes after Bush administration refusal to continue financing the monthly oil shipments. (New York Times, 14 November 2002, A7; Washington Post, 15 November 2002, A29)
21 November 2002 North Korea calls fuel aid freeze a “wanton violation” of the 1994 agreement and asserts that because of US actions the pact was nullified. North Korea also states economic pressure will not force it to abandon its nuclear program and that the conclusion of a non-aggression agreement between the two countries was the “only realistic solution to the nuclear issues on the Korean peninsula.” (Financial Times, 22 November 2002, 5; Washington Post, 22 November 2002, A36)
29 November 2002 IAEA passes resolution calling on North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons program and accept international inspections and safeguards. (New York Times, 30 November 2002, A10; 5 December 2002, A23)
5 December 2002 UN World Food program announces that food donations for North Korea are declining as Japanese and US contributions are being reduced. Japanese government refuses to contribute food aid without receiving concessions in the standoff over Japanese citizens kidnapped decades ago. The US plans to impose stricter control mechanism to ensure that food aid is not diverted to the military. (Washington Post, 5 December 2002, A18, A31; New York Times, 5 December 2002, A16)
9–11 December 2002 US and Spanish military forces intercept North Korean ship carrying 15 disassembled Scud missiles from North Korea to Yemen. After protest by Yemeni government and assurances that Scud missiles are intended for Yemeni military and not third country or terrorist organization, US releases ship. Neither Yemen nor North Korea is a member of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). (Washington Post, 11 December 2002, A1, A26; 12 December 2002, A46; Financial Times, 12 December 2002, 1)
12 December 2002 North Korea announces it will reactivate nuclear reactor shut down since 1994 and resume construction on two other nuclear plants capable of producing plutonium for nuclear weapons. North Korean foreign ministry spokesman argues reactivation was made necessary because US decision to suspend fuel oil deliveries caused acute electricity crisis. He adds that whether North Korea “refreezes its nuclear facilities depends on the attitude of the U.S.” US and South Korea call North Korea’s plan “unacceptable.” Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi reaffirms Japan’s commitment to engagement with North Korea despite recent developments. (Washington Post, 13 December 2002, A1, A50; Wall Street Journal, 13 December 2002, A4; New York Times, 14 December 2002, A11; Financial Times, 16 December 2002, 4)
22–24 December 2002 North Korea removes IAEA monitoring equipment and seals installed in 1994 from nuclear fuel rods, rod reprocessing plant and the reactor in Yongbyon; threatens to restart nuclear reactor. Bush administration warns North Korea not to resume activities at the frozen nuclear facilities. (New York Times, 23 December 2002, A1; 24 December 2002, A1; 25 December 2002, A8)
31 December 2002 North Korea expels three international inspectors monitoring the Yongbyon nuclear complex. Bush administration backs plan by the IAEA to refer the matter to the UN Security Council. (New York Times, 28 December 2002, A1; Washington Post, 29 December 2002, A25)
3 January 2003 Pentagon announces it will strengthen its forces in Asia. Move is interpreted as message to North Korea that despite focus on Iraq increase in US military action in Asia is possible. (Wall Street Journal, 3 January 2003, A12)
6 January 2003 The IAEA passes resolution condemning North Korea’s actions and calls on it to allow inspectors to restore safeguards but delays deferring the issue to the UN Security Council for sanctions. North Korea warns “sanctions mean war.” (Financial Times, 7 January 2003, 6; Associated Press, 7 January 2003)
7 January 2003 Following two days of meetings with Japan and South Korea in Washington, Bush administration announces its willingness to engage with North Korea, but reiterates that no incentives would be offered for dismantlement of North Korea’s nuclear program. (New York Times, 4 January 2003, A6; 8 January 2003, A1; Washington Post, 8 January 2003, A1)
10 January 2003 North Korea announces its withdrawal from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Withdrawal becomes effective after 90 days and eliminates legal obligation to admit international inspectors. North Korea made a similar announcement in 1993 but suspended the withdrawal following the launch of bilateral negotiations. (New York Times, 10 January 2003, A1, Washington Post, 10 January 2003, A1)
18 January 2003 UN envoy Maurice Strong indicates that millions of people in North Korea are short of food because of delays and suspensions of food aid by the US, Japan and South Korea since December. (New York Times, 6 January 2003, A11; 19 January 2003, 13; Washington Post, 19 January 2003, A18)
12 February 2003 After intense US lobbying, IAEA declares North Korea in violation of its international obligations and refers the matter to the UN Security Council. China and Russia criticize UN involvement as counterproductive. (Washington Post, 13 February 2003, A1; Financial Times, 13 February 2003, 6; 14 February 2003, 7)
19 February 2003 North Korea threatens to abandon the 1953 Korean War armistice if the US imposes economic sanctions. (Wall Street Journal, 19 February 2003, A12)
25 February 2003 During his four-day trip to Asia, Secretary of State Powell fails to win support from China, Australia and South Korea for US demand for multilateral negotiations; the three countries urge US to engage in direct talks with North Korea to address the nuclear crisis. Stating that recent suspension of food aid was not related to nuclear crisis, Powell announces that US will renew aid at reduced levels. (New York Times, 25 February 2003, A12; 26 February 2003, A11; Washington Post, 26 February 2003, A16)
27 February 2003 US officials confirm that North Korea restarted the 5-megawatt reactor at Yongbyon. North Korea announced the resumption of operations earlier in the month but insisted its nuclear program is intended for peaceful purposes only. (Washington Post, 27 February 2003, A23; New York Times, 27 February 2003, A1)
Late March China suspends oil shipments to North Korea for a few days. Officially China claims technical reasons for suspensions, but American officials and diplomats interpret the move as warning to North Korea that any new provocation would endanger bilateral relations. (Financial Times, 1 April 2003, 6; New York Times, 2 April 2003, A6; 16 April 2003, B9)
10 April 2003 On the day North Korea’s withdrawal from the NPT becomes effective, UN Security Council fails to reach agreement on how to confront the country over the nuclear crisis because of Chinese and Russian opposition to UN involvement. (Washington Post, 10 April 2003, A19; Financial Times, 11 April 2003, 7)
23– 25 April 2003 In a compromise brokered by China, representatives from US, China and North Korea meet for 3 days of talks in Beijing. US rejects North Korean demand for direct talks and insists on the inclusion of others. On the first day of talks, North Korea claims to already have nuclear weapons and threatens to test or export them if US does not meet its demands for bilateral talks. US demands “verifiable and irreversible end to North Korea’s nuclear weapons programs”. North Korea diplomats do not attend meetings on second or third day. (Washington Post, 24 April 2003, A18; Financial Times, 25 April 2003, 1; 26/27 April 2003, 3)
5 June 2003 Department of Defense announces plans to withdraw troops from the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between South and North Korea to positions at least 75 miles from the DMZ. North Korea interprets moves as preparation for pre-emptive strike by the US. (Washington Post, 6 June 2003, A1; New York Times, 10 June 2003, A9)
12 June 2003 Australia confirms that together with Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, and Spain it is working with US on a program to stop North Korean vessels trafficking in illegal goods, drugs and missiles. The US-led “Proliferation Security Initiative” seeks to impede illegal trade in weapons of mass destruction, their delivery systems and related materials by interdicting shipments worldwide. (Financial Times, 12 June 2003, 7; 17 June 2003, 6; New York Times, 18 June 2003, A5)
16 July 2003 Bush administration confirms reports that North Korea claims to have completed the reprocessing of 8,000 fuel rods into bomb grade plutonium. US and South Korean intelligence agencies are not able to verify or disprove the claim. (Financial Times, 16 July 2003, 1; Wall Street Journal, 22 July 2003, A4)
2 August 2003 North Korea agrees to multilateral talks after Bush administration signals that “bilateral talk would be possible within the framework of multilateral talks.” (Washington Post, 2 August 2003, A16)
27–29 August 2003 Six-nation talks between North Korea, China, South Korea, Russia, Japan and the US are held in Beijing. Despite North Korea’s threat to declare itself a nuclear state and test a nuclear bomb, officials agree to resume negotiations within two months. Subsequently, second round of negotiations is postponed. (New York Times, 27 August 2003, A8; 30 August 2003, A1; Financial Times, 29 August 2003, 1; Washington Post, 25 December 2003, A21)
17 September 2003 Bush administration decides to continue funding for KEDO but demands that construction of the LWRs be suspended. US provides only $3.72 million to KEDO for FY 2003 to cover administrative costs. (Financial Times, 17 September 2003, 4)
21 November 2003 KEDO board announces that LWR construction will be suspended for one year effective December 1. US Ambassador to Seoul Thomas Hubbard indicates that US does not expect the project to be revived. (Financial Times, 22/23 November 2003, 5)
6–10 January 2004 Unofficial US delegation of congressional aides, academics and former US officials are granted access to Yongbyon nuclear site in effort by North Korea to show its nuclear capabilities. Delegation confirms that fuel rods had been removed from storage at Yongbyon facility, but cannot conclusively verify that North Korea succeeded in producing weapons grade plutonium. If reprocessed, the rods could yield enough material for 6–8 nuclear weapons. During visit North Korea denies having a uranium enrichment program. Bush administration highlights that delegation is not acting on behalf of the administration. (Washington Post, 10 January 2004, A13; Financial Times, 16 January 2004, 6; 22 January 2004, 3)
19 January 2004 A day before legislation restricting trade and financial ties with North Korea is to be introduced in Japanese parliament, North Korea indicates willingness to come to an agreement with Japanese government over the children of the Japanese abductees. (New York Times, 19 January 2004, A2)
12 February 2004 Japan announces it will not offer economic aid as inducement to resolve nuclear crisis at upcoming multilateral talks unless issue of abductees is resolved. (Washington Post, 12 February 2004, A34)
25–27 February 2004 New round of 6-party talks is held in Beijing without major breakthrough. North Korea offers to freeze its plutonium program in exchange for aid but continues to deny existence of uranium enrichment program. US insists on verifiable dismantlement of all nuclear programs. However, US states it does not object to South Korean offer to provide energy aid to the North if freeze of nuclear program is followed by total dismantlement. Talks end with agreement to create smaller working groups to address most contentious issues and meet again in June. (Washington Post, 25 February 2004, A20; New York Times, 28 February 2004, A5; 29 February 2004, 6)
Early March 2004 North Korea demands withdrawal of US troops from south as condition for dismantling nuclear program. It also insists on keeping nuclear facilities for peaceful purposes. (Financial Times, 9 March 2004, 4)
22 May 2004 During one-day visit to North Korea, Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi secures the release of 5 children of abducted Japanese citizens and pledges 250,000 tons of rice and $10 million worth of medicine and other aid to North Korea. (Washington Post, 23 May 2004, A18)
23–26 June 2004 China hosts six-nation talks in Beijing. US departs from previous position and puts forward proposal under which North Korea freezes its nuclear programs for three months in exchange for immediate energy aid from South Korean and Japan. During the three-month period, North Korea must begin to verifiably dismantle its programs before receiving US security assurances and economic aid. North Korea rejects offer and reiterates that only if US provides energy aid, lifts sanctions and removes North Korea from the terrorism list will it freeze its nuclear program as a first step towards dismantlement. (Financial Times, 24 June 2004, 4; 29 June 2004, 7; New York Times, 24 June 2004, A13; Washington Post, 25 July 2004, A16)
18 October 2004 President Bush signs North Korean Human Rights Act into law. Act links economic aid to North Korea to progress on human rights, authorizes funds to aid civilians and refugees, and calls for human rights issues to become part of six-party nuclear talks. South Korea and China voice concern law will complicate nuclear talks. (New York Times, 23 October 2004, A9; 24 October 2004, 11)
23 October 2004 North Korea demands that US contribute energy aid as condition for returning to nuclear talks. (New York Times, 23, October 2004, A9; 27 October 2004, A9)
27 November 2004 KEDO board announces that LWR construction remains suspended for another year. (Washington Post, 27 November 2004, A16)
2 February 2005 American intelligence agencies and government scientists confirm that North Korea sold processed uranium to Libya. (New York Times, 2 February 2005, A1)
10 February 2005 North Korea declares publicly for the first time that it possesses nuclear weapons and refuses to return to disarmament talks for an indefinite period. UN IAEA Director General, Mohamed ElBaradei, expresses doubts as to North Korea’s actual nuclear capacity, but adds that “North Koreans have the know-how and enough plutonium for at least six to eight bombs”. US Deputy Secretary of State, Robert Zoellick, and South Korean officials say that North Korea’s announcement may be a bluff. (Der Spiegel, Interview with Mohamed ElBaradei, 21 February 2005; New York Times, 16 February 2005; New York Times, 11 February 2005, A1)
10 February 2005 US Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, John R. Bolton, states that the policy of “transformational diplomacy” does not apply to North Korea. He reiterates the invitation to join the six-party talks, and also stresses that—from a US standpoint—six-party talks are to focus on the nuclear program, leaving aside other issues in the bilateral agenda. However, Bolton acknowledges the legitimate right of other parties to raise other topics, such as the abduction issue. (US State Department, Press Roundtable with Japanese Media, 10 February 2005)
7 March 2005 Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing expresses doubts regarding the quality of the US intelligence data on North Korea’s nuclear program. (New York Times, 7 March 2005, A7)
19 April 2005 Seoul distances itself from US stance on North Korea. First, it stresses commitment to the six-party negotiating approach to North Korea’s nuclear program, rejecting US proposal of seeking UN resolution allowing allies to intercept North Korean shipments international waters or airspace. Second, it refuses to participate in US contingency planning for an eventual collapse of Kim Jong Il’s regime in North Korea. (BBC News, 19 April 2005; Los Angeles Times, 16 April 2005)
3 May 2005 North Korea conducts ballistic missile test. US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, states that North Korea’s missile program should be put on the six-party talks agenda. (, 3 May 2005)
8 May 2005 China and South Korea call on North Korea to engage in six-party talks, but reject the US proposal to apply economic and political sanctions to pressure North Korea. A senior Chinese official, Yang Xiyu, states that the attitude and declarations of the US government are not creating the right environment for talks to resume. (, 9 May 2005; International Herald Tribune, May 11 2005; New York Times, 16 May 2005)
16 May 2005 US officials warn North Korea that the conduct of a nuclear test would trigger punitive action by the United States and other Pacific powers. Meanwhile, Secretary General of Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party states that Japan will press for UN sanctions if North Korea tests nuclear weapons. (New York Times, 16 May 2005)
28 May 2005 The United States suspends program to recover the remains of US soldiers killed in the Korean War. Move is perceived as a symbolic sanction in that it deprives the North Korean military of foreign exchange. The United States also cuts funding for personnel working on the light water nuclear reactor project, a key North Korean request in six party talks. (Los Angeles Times, 28 May 2005)
22 June 2005 The United States announces donation of agricultural commodities to North Korea through the World Food Program. (US State Department, Press Statement, 22 June 2005)
13 July 2005 South Korea announces its offer of electrical power to induce North Korea to resume six party talks. (New York Times, 13 July 2005, A6)
15 September 2005 US Treasury designates Banco Delta Asia as Primary Money Laundering Concern under USA Patriot Act. The press releases states “Banco Delta Asia has been a willing pawn for the North Korean government to engage in corrupt financial activities through Macau.” (US Treasury, Press Room, 15 September 2005)
19 September 2005 Fourth round of six-party talks concludes. North Korea agrees to eliminate its nuclear weapons program and rejoin the NPT, conditional on other parties supplying aid, security guarantees, and considering North Korea’s request for completion of the light-water reactor at an appropriate time. Discussions on implementation of commitments are postponed until November 2005. (International Herald Tribune, 20 September 2005, A1)
20 September 2005 Japan and North Korea announce the resumption of bilateral talks covering nuclear weapons, missile program and abduction of Japanese citizens. North Korea states that it will not scrap its nuclear weapons program unless the United States provides it with a light-water nuclear reactor. Officials in Tokyo and Washington respond that the request is unacceptable. (Associated Press, 20 September 2005; BBC News, 20 September 2005)
13 October 2005 The US Justice Department formally accuses North Korea of forging US currency. (BBC News, 13 October 2005)
18 October 2005 North Korea states that US sanctions on DPRK’s financial transactions violate the spirit of the joint statement issued in the six-party talks. (Xinhua, 18 October 2005)
21 October 2005 The US Treasury Department adds 8 North Korean entities to its list of sanctions against proliferators of weapons of mass destruction. The measure allows US authorities to freeze North Korean assets under US jurisdiction. (Kyodo News Service, 21 October 2005)
9 November 2005 Fifth Round of Six-Party talks begins. North Korea demands the removal of latest economic sanctions imposed by Washington. North Korea also denies US accusations of involvement in drug trafficking and counterfeiting US currency. Meanwhile, the United States demands immediate closing of Yongbyon reactor. (BBC Global News Wire, 10 November 2005)
11 November 2005 Fifth Round of Six Party Talks end in stalemate. Negotiators agree to reconvene at earliest possible date. The United States insists “banking sector issues are not in the purview of the six party talks”, while North Korea refuses to take first steps in absence of corresponding step on the US side. (BBC Monitoring, 11 November 2005; US State Department, Press Release, 11 November 2005)
2 December 2005 The United States and North Korea clash over issue of financial sanctions. North Korea refuses informative consultation with US officials over US sanctions on banking issues. North Korea also refuses to return to Six-Party talks unless financial sanctions are resolved. The United States refuses to lift financial sanctions against North Korea, maintaining that talks and sanctions are unrelated. Verbal confrontation dominates headlines; the US State Department rejects DPRK’s linkage of financial sanctions to progress in Six-Party talks. The North Korean Foreign Ministry, however, claims that “the US is applying unreasonable financial sanctions against it [DPRK] on the basis of sheer fabrications,” and promises to join the international program against money laundering. Two days later, the DPRK also rejects allegations of involvement in smuggling of cigarettes and drugs. (BBC Monitoring Asia Pacific, 2 December 2005; KCNA, 9 February 2006; BBC Monitoring, 11 February 2006; Voice of America News, 10 January 2006)
24–25 December 2006 The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan states that North Korea “must respond to calls for the early resumption of the Six-Party Talks. . .that the US measure concerning "money laundering" was unrelated to the talks, and that North Korea must make efforts to advance the talks and enhance Japan–North Korea and US–North Korea relations as a whole. (MOFA, Governmental Consultations between Japan and North Korea, December 24–25, Beijing, Overview, 26 December 2005)
25 January 2006 The Foreign Ministry of South Korea rebuffs a US request to sanction North Korea on account of its engagement in counterfeiting US currency. A week later, South Korea’s National Intelligence Agency (NIS) states that it had no evidence that the DPRK had forged US dollars since 1998. (Cybercast News Service, 25 January 2006; BBC News, 2 February 2006)
7 March 2006 Russian Ambassador to South Korea states that Russia opposes US policy of sanctions, and calls on the United States to produce evidence to back up claim that North Korea is engaged in counterfeiting. (, 7 March 2006; Yonhap, 7 March 2006)
13 March 2006 The United States rejects North Korean proposal to establish parallel committee on financial issues and urges North Korea to join the Asia-Pacific Group on Money Laundering. (The Korea Herald, 13 March 2006; Financial Times, 14 March 2006)
17 March 2006 US Treasury Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, Stuart Levey, states that financial sanctions against North Korea have produced “encouraging results.” “Jurisdictions in the region have begun conducting investigations and taking the necessary steps to cut off illicit North Korean business.” (Japan Economic Newswire, 16 March 2006)
4–5 July 2006 North Korea tests one long-range and six short-range missiles despite international opposition, increasing geopolitical tensions. The long-range Taepodong-2 missile fails, crashing 40 seconds after launch. (Financial Times, 6 July 2006, 8)
10 July 2006 European, Japanese, and US efforts to impose UN sanctions on North Korea are blocked by Chinese veto threats. (Financial Times, 11 July 2006, 9)
15 July 2006 Ending an 11-day deadlock, UN Security Council reaches a compromise and passes resolution 1695 calling on North Korea to abandon its missile program and banning the import and export of missiles and missile -related materiel or technology to North Korea as well as the transfer of financial resources to North Korea's missile or WMD programs. (New York Times, 16 July 2006, A8; Washington Post, 16 July 2006, A13)
19 September 2006  Japan and Australia impose financial sanctions on several North Korean entities and persons, suspected of involvement in its missile and nuclear programs.  Sanctions require Japanese and Australian banks to block any transactions with the listed entities. Japan had earlier banned North Korean trade ferry from its ports and placed a moratorium on charter flights between the two countries.  (Choi 2006, 26; BBC News, 19 September 2006)
3 October 2006 North Korea announces plan to test its first nuclear weapon.  Bush administration warns that "we are not going to live with a nuclear North Korea; we are not going to accept it". China and Russia also call a test unacceptable and call for restraint.  (New York Times, 5 October 2006, A8)
9 October 2006 North Korea sets off an underground nuclear test.  On October 11, US verifies that nuclear test took place.  (New York Times, 9 October 2006, A1; Congressional Research Service (CRS) 2010d, 28)
11 October 2006 Japan announces new sanctions including banning all North Korean vessels from entering Japanese ports, a ban on imports from North Korea and denying North Korean nationals entry into Japan for six months.  (Choi 2006, 25)
13 October 2006 Citing UNSC resolution 1695 and concerns over missile proliferation, Congress passes the North Korean Nonproliferation Act of 2006 which adds North Korea to the Iran and Syria Nonproliferation Act. (CRS 2010c, 6, footnote; PL 109-353, 13 October 2006)
14 October 2006 Condemning the nuclear test, the UN Security Council unanimously passes resolution 1718 imposing sanctions and demanding that no further nuclear test or missile launches be conducted. Sanctions include a ban on export of luxury goods, certain arms and related materiel as well as an asset freeze of entities designated by the UN sanctions committee. The resolution also calls on countries to inspect cargo going in and out of North Korea to ensure compliance, but due to Chinese and Russian objections does not make inspections mandatory or authorize the use of force to stop ships in international waters. UN sanctions committee fails to designate any individuals or entities for financial sanctions until April 2009.  (New York Times, 15 October 2006, A1; Reuters, 13 April 2009)
22 October 2006 Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice ends her diplomatic tour to South Korea, Japan, China and Russia aimed at shoring up support for sanction and cargo inspection regime. China, which provides 80-90 percent of North Korea's oil imports, allegedly is prepared to reduce oil shipments to pressure the county to return to six-party talks and despite earlier objections has allegedly begun inspection of cargo passing through its ports.  South Korea is reluctant to curtail economic ties with the North. (New York Times, 20 October 2006, A1, A14; New York Times, 23 October 2006, A7; New York Times, 31 October 2006, A12)
1 November 2006 North Korea agrees to resume nuclear disarmament talks. US chief negotiator Christopher Hill states that he expects the talks to resume "without precondition".  Previously North Korea demanded lifting of US financial sanctions, in particular against Banco Delta Asia, as precondition for talks.   (New York Times, 1 November 2006, A1)
16–18 January 2007 In a reversal of earlier Bush administration policy, North Korea and US meet for first in a series of one-on-one talks in Berlin.  Both sides are pleased with progress. North Korea refers to talks as "bilateral negotiations" while US chief negotiator Christopher Hill calls talks "preparation for six-party talks."   (CRS 2010b, 10; New York Times, 18 February 2007,
13 February 2007 Fifth Round of six party talks in Beijing ends in a tentative agreement. North Korea agrees to disable its plutonium nuclear facilities in Yongbyon and provide the US and other members of the six party talk with "a complete and correct" declaration of its nuclear program. In return, US will terminate economic sanctions on North Korea under the Trading with the Enemy Act (See Case 50-1) and remove North Korea from the list of state sponsors of terrorism.  In addition, North Korea will receive 50,000 tons of fuel oil or economic aid of equal value.  Details on verification of North Korean compliance and nuclear inspections are to be negotiated at a later date. (CRS 2010b, 11, Washington Post, 13 February 2007) 
14 March 2007 Mohamed El Baradei, head of IAEA, visits North Korea for first time since North Korea expelled all nuclear inspectors in 2002.  El Baradei states that North Korea has pledged to adhere to February 13th agreement but will not act until the US resolves the dispute over funds frozen in Banco Delta Asia. US officials indicate investigation is finished and the release of $25 million in frozen funds is now up to officials in Macao. (New York Times, 15 March 2007; New York Times, 18 March 2007, A18)
25 June 2007 Technical problems that delay the release of frozen North Korea funds for four months are solved. North Korea acknowledges receipt of money and confirms it would proceed to "shut down and seal" Yongbyon. (CRS 2010d, 29; New York Times, 3 July 2007; BBC News, 27 June 2007)
18 July 2007 IAEA inspectors announce that nuclear facilities in Yongbyon are shut down and sealed in accordance with February 2007 agreement.  (IAEA Press Release 2007/12, 18 July 2007; CRS 2010d, 29)
February 2008 South Korea's new president Lee Myung-bak promises to reverse his predecessor's "sunshine policy" towards North Korea. Mr. Lee maintains that aid must be linked to an improvement in North Korea's human rights record and dismantlement of its nuclear facilities.  (New York Times, 17 January 2008, A12; New York Times, 27 March 2008, A6)
8 April 2008 US and North Korea negotiate agreement that excludes uranium-based weapons program as well as nuclear assistance to Syria from information North Korea needs to provide in the declaration of its nuclear program. National Security Council member Dennis Wilder state that these declarations would be negotiated separately with the United States.  (New York Times, 19 April 2008, A18; New York Times, 20 April 2008, A12; CRS 2010d, 29)
26 June 2008 North Korea submits its declaration of nuclear programs listing 15 facilities and the following day destroys the cooling tower in Yongbyon. In turn, President Bush announces his intention to remove North Korea from the list of state sponsors of terrorism within 45 days and lifts economic sanctions under the Trading with the Enemy Act.  However, on the same day the President declares that "the current existence and risk of the proliferation of weapons-usable fissile material on the Korean Peninsula constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat" to the national security of the United States and that all assets frozen since 16 June 2000 and restrictions on the use of North Korean vessels will continue under authority of NEA and IEEPA.  (CRS 2010d, 29; CRS 2010b, 4-5; Washington Post, 28 June 2008; New York Times, 27 June 2008, A18; Executive Order 13466, 26 June 2008; CRS 2010c, 101)
July 2008  Bush administration proposes a system of intrusive international inspections of all nuclear facilities. North Korea rejects proposal, suspends the dismantlement of Yongbyon and threatens to resume operations of its nuclear facilities.  US delays removal of North Korea from the list of state sponsors of terrorism. (CRS 2010d, 29; CRS 2010b, 5; Washington Post, 26 September 2008)
August 2008 North Korean leader Kim Jong-il allegedly suffers a stroke.  (New York Times, 11 September 2008, A6)
3 October 2008 Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill negotiates a more limited inspection program with North Korea that concentrates on declared nuclear sites. (New York Times, 13 October 2008, A6)
11 October 2008 US removes North Korea from the list of state sponsors of terrorism, despite Japanese protests, which opposes the delisting until North Korea takes steps to resolve the case of its kidnapped citizens. However, sanctions pursuant to Arms Export Control Act on countries "that do not cooperate fully with United States antiterrorism efforts" remain in effect.  North Korea resumes the disablement process at Yongbyon. (CRS 2010b, 5; New York Times, 13 October 2008, A6; CRS 2010c, 5-6)
December 2008            US and six party talk members halt delivery of fuel aid over North Korea's refusal to agree to formal verification and inspection plan in writing.  (New York Times, 29 December 2008, A24)
5 April 2009 North Korea test launches a long-range Taepodong II missile. (CRS 2010d, 3; New York Times, 6 April 2009, A1)
13 April 2009 President of the UN Security Council issues a statement condemning North Korea's missile test as violation of its obligation under resolution 1718 and calling on all member states to enforce existing sanctions against North Korea. The statement, unanimously approved by all UNSC members, calls on the UN sanctions committee to activate financial sanctions and arms embargo outlined in Resolution 1718. In protest, North Korea withdraws from six party talks, expels IAEA monitors and threatens to restart its nuclear program. (Reuters, 13 April 2009; CRS 2010d, 3; New York Times, 25 May 2009, A1)
25 May 2009 North Korea conducts a 2nd nuclear test. US intelligence agencies estimate the test was "of a device with an estimated explosive power of four to five kilotons." (CRS 2010d, 3; CRS 2010b, 1)
26 May 2009 In a reversal of previous government's policy, South Korea announces that it will fully participate in US-led Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) to prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction. Ministry of Unification spokesperson Lee Jong-Ju declares that "The PSI is part of global efforts to curb the flow of weapons of mass destruction. Seoul's participation does not specifically target North Korea…"  North Korea retaliates by stating it is no longer bound by the Korean armistice and will respond militarily to any attempt to inspect its ships.   (New York Times, 28 May 2009, A6; United Press International, 27 May 2009)
7 June 2009 Secretary of State Hillary Clinton states that Obama administration may consider putting North Korea back on the list of state sponsors of terrorism should there be "recent evidence of their support for international terrorism."  (CRS 2010b, introduction)
9 June 2009 Two US journalists are sentenced to 12 years of hard labor for "hostile acts" by North Korea, leading to further deterioration in the relationship with the US.  (New York Times, 10 June 2009, A16)
10 June 2009 For the first time, South Korea imposes financial sanctions on three North Korea companies named by UN sanctions committee.  These largely symbolic sanctions became effective June 1.  (New York Times, 10 June 2009, A10)
12 June 2009 UN Security Council approves resolution 1874 imposing sanctions on North Korea for its nuclear test.  Resolution prohibits all arms-related trade with North Korea as well as technical training, financial transaction or assistance of any kind related to arms. It calls on states to inspect cargo vessels and airplanes suspected of carrying North Korea weapons or nuclear technology on their territory or on the high sea. It also calls on flag states to authorize these inspections on the high seas or direct their vessels to the nearest port for inspection. Countries are required to report on their inspections and report when inspection was denied; are given authority to seize and destroy banned cargo and called on to deny support and fuel to vessels suspected of carrying banned cargo.  Resolution 1874 also calls on states and financial institutions to stop providing banking services, loans and credits to North Korea; block transfers of and freeze any North Korean assets that could support its nuclear and missile programs.  (CRS 2010d, 29; New York Times, 11 June 2009, A6; New York Times, 13 June 2009, A4)
16 June 2009 A day prior to President Obama's meeting with South Korean president Lee Myung-bak, administration officials state that US will order North Korean ships to stop at sea and request inspections but will not board them by force.  Instead, US will monitor ship movements, report them to the UNSC, and request inspection at the next port.  Officials also state that sanction enforcement strategy was agreed upon with Beijing and Moscow. North Korea has said it will consider interdiction an act of war.  (New York Times, 16 June 2009, A1)
27 June 2009 Obama administration names senior diplomat Philip S. Goldberg as envoy and head of task force coordinating US political, military and financial sanctions against North Korea. Administration official states "We wanted somebody who woke up every morning and thought about nothing but sanctions implementation."  (New York Times, 27 June 2009, A7)
5 August 2009 North Korea releases the two US journalists after former President Bill Clinton meets with Kim Jong-il in Pyongyang.  Obama administration calls trip "private humanitarian mission".  (Washington Post, 5 August 2009)
October 2009 North Korea conducts a series of short range missile tests.  (New York Times, 13 October 2009, A5)
December 2009 North Korea implements currency reform which subsequently leads to high inflation, closed food markets and triggers unusual show of public discontent. (Financial Times, 10 December 2009, 4; Financial Times, 8 June 2010, 5)  
12 December 2009   Thai authorities detain a Ukrainian aircraft packed with arms allegedly being smuggled from North Korea to Iran.  Air cargo is not covered under UNSC resolution 1874 but seems to have become the preferred proliferation method by North Korea.  (Financial Times, 15 January 2009, 3)
January 2010 North Korea detains two US citizens for illegally entering the country.  (Financial Times, 29 January 2009, 5)
February 2010 South Africa authorities inform UN Panel of Experts of interception of a shipment of North Korean tank parts headed for the Republic of Congo in November. This is the 4th report of North Korean noncompliance with UN sanctions received by the panel.  (New York Times, 23 February 2010, A6; Report to the Security Council from Panel of Experts, 22)
26 March 2010 South Korean warship Cheonan sinks killing 46 sailors.  South Korean government suspects a North Korean torpedo attack.  North Korea denies involvement. (Financial Times, 6 May 2010, 6; Financial Times, 20 May 2010, 2)
6 May 2010 Kim Jong-il visits China for the first time since 2006.  Analysts suggest Mr. Kim is looking to shore up economic and political support from his closest ally following bungled currency reforms that led to high inflation.  (Financial Times, 6 May 2010, 6)
12 May 2010 Israeli intelligence sources claim that North Korean shipment of arms seized in Thailand in December 2009 was ultimately intended for Hezbollah and/or Hamas.  (CRS 2010b, 2)
20 May 2010 South Korean government releases the findings of its international investigation into the March 26 sinking of the Cheonan.  The investigation team composed of experts from South Korea, the United States, Australia, Britain, and Sweden states that the evidence points overwhelmingly to the conclusion that ship was sunk by a torpedo fired by a North Korean submarine. (Financial Times, 27 May 2010, 2; CRS 2010b, 1)
22 May 2010 US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton states that there will be "no business as usual" with North Korea because of Cheonan incident. (Financial Times, 22-23 May 2010, 1)
24 May 2010 In retaliation over warship sinking, South Korea cuts all trade with the North outside of Kaesong industrial zone (accounting for approximately half of inter-Korean trade) and closes its waters to North Korean vessels.  Obama administration supports South Korean move and orders US military commanders to "ensure readiness and to deter future aggression".  In response, North Korea threatens to sever all ties with the South.  (Financial Times, 25 May 2010, 1, 7; Financial Times, 27 May 2010, 2; CRS 2010b, 1)
Early June 2010    South Korea asks UN Security Council to censure North Korea over warship incident. Security Council action might be blocked by Beijing which has not accepted the results of the international investigation and not publicly renounced the North.  (Financial Times, 7 June 2010, 2; 8 June 2010, 5)
10 June 2010 Special Advisor for Nonproliferation and Arms Control Robert J. Einhorn replaces Philip S. Goldberg as U.S. coordinator for the implementation of sanctions related to Iran and North Korea.  (Department of State press release, 10 June 2010)
28 June 2010 Amidst renewed pressure to relist North Korea as a state-sponsor of terrorism, State Department spokesperson Phil Crowley declares the Cheonan sinking constitutes a violation of 1953 armistice agreement but not an act of international terrorism.  (CRS 2010b, 2)
30 August 2010 Explicitly identifying the sinking of Cheonan, violations of UNSC resolutions, as well as other illicit economic activities as reasons, President Obama expands the scope of the national emergency with respect to North Korea.  Executive order 135514 freezes assets of people and companies that are involved in selling arms or luxury good to North Korea; in money laundering, counterfeiting, or narcotics trafficking.  The order lists 1 individual and 3 companies, including "Office 39" the entity of the Korean Worker's party that controls the slush fund for North Korean leadership.  (CRS 2010c, 2-3; Executive Order 135514, 1 September 2010; New York Times, 31 August 2010, A6; Washington Post, 31 August 2010, A10)  
31 August 2010 Kim Jong-il leaves China following a 5-day visit with Chinese president Hu Jintao.  (New York Times, 31 August 2010, A6)
29 September 2010  Kim Jong-Il's youngest son Kim Jong-eun is named as four-star general and appointed to the position of vice-chairman of the party's central military commission, making him the heir apparent.  (Financial Times, 30 September 2010, 5; Financial Times, 28 September 2010, 1)
23 November 2010  Tensions rise sharply on the Korean peninsula following the North Korean shelling of the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong that killed 2 soldiers and injured a dozen people.  The North Korean attack comes only days after it revealed the existence of a modern and extensive Uranium enrichment plant to visiting US nuclear scientists.  (Financial Times, 24 November 2010, 1, 6; New York Times, 24 November 2010, A1)


1. Renewed by President Obama on 24 June 2009 and 14 June 2010

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