Chronology of major events surrounding N. Korean nuclear standoff


The following is a chronology of major events surrounding the dispute over North Korea’s nuclear weapons program and six-party talks aimed at ending the crisis.

List below the fold:

Oct. 21 — North Korea and the United States sign an agreement in Geneva, ending a nuclear row that lasted 18 months. The Agreed Framework requires Pyongyang to freeze and eventually dismantle its nuclear facilities in return for two light-water nuclear reactors. It also states the two countries should move toward the normalization of political and economic relations.
Oct. 3 — James Kelly, U.S. assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, visits North Korea. 

Oct. 17 — The United States claims Pyongyang has admitted to running a clandestine nuclear weapons program.

Nov. 15 — The executive board of the Korea Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO) decides to suspend its heavy oil supplies to North Korea from December unless the North abandons
its nuclear weapons program.

Dec. 12 — North Korea declares the lifting of nuclear freeze measures in a statement released by its Foreign Ministry.

Dec. 13 — North Korea asks the United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to remove seals and surveillance equipment from its Yongbyon nuclear power plant.

Dec. 21 — North Korea says it has begun the removal of IAEA seals and surveillance equipment from its nuclear facilities.

Dec. 27 — North Korea says it has expelled two IAEA nuclear inspectors from the country.
Jan. 10 — North Korea announces its withdrawal from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT).

April 9 — The U.N. Security Council expresses concern about North Korea’s nuclear program, but fails to condemn Pyongyang for withdrawing from the NPT.

Aug. 1 — South Korea confirms that North Korea agrees to holding dialogue on its nuclear program with the United States, Japan, China, Russia and South Korea.

Aug. 27-29 — The first round of six-party talks is held in Beijing to resolve the nuclear showdown. Washington and Pyongyang fail to iron out differences, but delegates agree to meet again.

Dec. 9 — North Korea offers to “freeze” its nuclear program in exchange for concessions from the United States, saying it will boycott further talks unless Washington agrees.

Dec. 27 — North Korea says it will attend a new round of six-party talks on its nuclear program in early 2004.
Jan. 10 — An unofficial U.S. team of experts visits North Korea’s Yongbyon nuclear complex.

Feb. 3 — North Korea says the next round of six-party talks on the nuclear crisis will be held on Feb. 25.

Feb. 25-28 — The second round of six-way talks is held in Beijing, but ends without a major breakthrough.

June 23 — The third round of six-party talks is held in Beijing, with the United States offering North Korea fuel aid if it drops its nuclear program.

Aug. 16 — North Korea says it will boycott a working-level meeting ahead of the next round of six-way talks, citing what it calls Washington’s lack of a “sincere attitude.”
Sept. 28 — North Korea announces it has completed processing 8,000 spent nuclear fuel rods.
Jan. 14 — North Korea expresses its willingness to restart the stalled talks on its nuclear ambitions.

Jan. 19 — Condoleezza Rice, U.S. President George W. Bush’s nominee as secretary of state, describes North Korea as one of six “outposts of tyranny.”
Feb. 10 — North Korea’s Foreign Ministry announces the country possesses a nuclear arsenal and that it will indefinitely boycott six-way talks until Washington drops its “hostile” policy toward North Korea.

April 18 — South Korea says the North has suspended operation of its nuclear reactor in Yongbyon, enabling the country to extract fuel rods for more nuclear weapons.

May 11 — North Korea claims it has completed extraction of spent fuel rods from the Yongbyon reactor.

June 17 — Returning from a trip to Pyongyang, South Korean Unification Minister Chung Dong-young announces that North Korean leader Kim Jong-il said Pyongyang could rejoin six-way talks if it can reach an agreement with Washington.

July 9 — North Korea’s official news agency reports that North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye-gwan and U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill agreed to hold the fourth round of the six-party talks in the last week of July.

July 26 — The talks resume in Beijing.

Aug. 7 — The talks enter a three-week recess after North Korea refuses to sign a draft of principles agreed by the five other participating nations.

Sept. 13 — Delegates from the six countries resume the fourth round of the talks.

Sept. 19 — The six nations issue a joint statement, the first of its kind at the talks, and agree to hold the fifth round in early November. In the six-point statement, North Korea agrees to dismantle its nuclear program, return to the NPT and allow monitoring by the IAEA. The five other countries involved in the talks agree to provide a security guarantee and energy to the North and promote trade and economic exchanges. The U.S. and Japan, in particular, agree to normalize relations with the North.

Nov. 8 — Nuclear envoys from the six nations meet in Beijing. North Korea’s chief nuclear envoy Kim Gye-kwan demands that financial sanctions on the North be lifted.

Nov. 17 — The leaders of South Korea and the United States reconfirm at a Washington summit their pursuit of a peaceful resolution to the North Korean nuclear crisis.

December — South Korea proposes hosting six-way talks on the country’s southern island of Jeju, but North Korea refuses to attend.
Jan. 18 — Chief nuclear envoys from North Korea, China and the United States meet in Beijing as part of efforts to revive the stalled nuclear talks, but the meeting ends without a breakthrough.

March. 7 — The United States and North Korea hold a working-level meeting in Beijing to resolve the dispute over the communist state’s alleged counterfeiting of U.S. dollars. The two sides fail to reach a breakthrough.

June 1 — North Korea invites the chief U.S. nuclear envoy to Pyongyang, but Washington refuses to accept the invitation.

July 5 — North Korea test-fires at least three missiles, including one possibly long-range missile, the “Taepodong-2.”
July 16 — The U.N. Security Council unanimously adopts resolution 1695, concerning limited sanctions on North Korea. The resolution also calls on the North to return to the nuclear talks, but Pyongyang condemns it.

July 27 — South Korea, the United States and six other nations hold a meeting in Malaysia to discuss North Korea’s missile and nuclear programs, while Pyongyang refuses to join the six-way talks on the sidelines of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) in Kuala Lumpur.

Aug. 1 — The ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), Asia’s biggest security conference, adopts a chairman’s statement expressing concern about North Korea’s multiple missile tests.

Aug. 18 — U.S.-based ABC News reports that North Koreans were spotted unloading large reels of cable near the North’s suspected nuclear test site.

Sept. 11 — The chief U.S. nuclear envoy proposes 10-way talks to resolve the North Korean nuclear crisis.

Sept. 14 — South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun and U.S. President George W. Bush reaffirm the goal of finding a peaceful and diplomatic resolution to the North Korean nuclear issue. They agree to pursue a “new joint comprehensive approach” to resume the six-party talks.

Oct. 3 — North Korea says it will conduct a nuclear test to prop up its self-defense against “growing U.S. hostility” against the communist regime.

Oct. 9 — North Korea says it has safely and successfully conducted its first-ever test of a nuclear bomb. South Korea reports its detection of a 3.58-3.7 magnitude tremor in the North’s northeastern Hamkyong Province.

Oct. 11 — North Korea says it will take “physical countermeasures” if the U.S. steps up pressure on it.

Oct. 14 — Japan imposes new sanctions on North Korea, prohibiting imports and barring ships from the North in response to its claimed nuclear test on Oct 9. The United States confirms it detected signs of a nuclear explosion.

Oct. 15 — The United Nations Security Council adopts resolution 1718 imposing sanctions on North Korea.

Oct. 17 — North Korea says the U.N. resolution is tantamount to a declaration of war against it.

Oct. 19 — A special Chinese envoy returns to Beijing after meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-il to discuss Pyongyang’s nuclear test.

Oct. 21 — U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice returns to Washington after a week-long Asian trip aimed at drumming up support for the U.N.-imposed sanctions against North Korea.   

Oct. 25 — South Korea confirms it has detected signs of North Korea’s nuclear test.

Oct. 31 — North Korea agrees to return to six-party talks during a meeting between U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill and Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Kim Kye-gwan in Beijing.

Nov. 28-29 — The top nuclear negotiators of the United States, South Korea and North Korea hold talks in Beijing to set the date for the resumption of the six-party talks. The three-way meeting ends without progress.

Dec. 18-22 — The six-party talks resume in Beijing after a 13-month hiatus, but end without a breakthrough.
Jan. 16-18 — The chief U.S. nuclear envoy, Christopher Hill, and his North Korean counterpart Kim Kye-gwan hold a previously unannounced bilateral meeting in Berlin, the first of its kind outside Beijing since the six-party talks began.

Jan. 30 — Host China announces resumption of six-party talks in Beijing on Feb. 8.

Jan. 30-31 — Financial officials from Washington and Pyongyang hold working-level talks, the second of their kind, in Beijing to discuss U.S. financial restrictions on North Korea. The financial talks ended only with an agreement to meet again at an unspecified date.

Feb. 8 — The nuclear negotiations resume in the Chinese capital.

Feb. 13 — The six countries in the nuclear disarmament talks adopt a joint statement, under which North Korea will shut down its nuclear-related facilities within 60 days in exchange for 50,000 tons of heavy fuel oil or other aid. The agreement also stipulates the North will be provided with an additional 950,000 tons of fuel or equivalent economic incentives in return for “disabling” its nuclear facilities by an unspecified time.


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