North Korea: A Chronology of Events, October 2002-December 2004
CRS Report for Congress
North Korea: A Chronology of Events,
October 2002-December 2004
January 24, 2005
Mark E. Manyin
Specialist in Asian Affairs
Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division
Analyst in Asian Affairs
Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division
Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division
Congressional Research Service ˜ The Library of Congress
North Korea: A Chronology of Events,
October 2002-December 2004
This report provides a chronology of events relevant to U.S. relations with North
Korea from October 2002 through December 31, 2004. The chronology includes
significant meetings, events, and statements that shed light on the issues surrounding
North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. An introductory analysis provides
background on U.S. policy preceding October 2002 as well as an overview of
developments and dynamics among the major players in the North Korea nuclear
dispute: South Korea, Japan, China, Russia, and the United States. Particular
attention is paid to the demise of the Agreed Framework, the ongoing six-party talks,
China’s prominent role in the negotiations, inter-Korean relations, and the Japanese
abductee issue. Also discussed is Congress’s role in dealing with North Korea,
including the passage of the North Korea Human Rights Act (P.L. 108-333). This
report will not be updated.
U.S. Policy Toward North Korea Preceding October 2002..............1
The Agreed Framework Unravels .................................2
The Six-Party Talks Take Shape..................................2
China Emerges as a Key Player ..................................3
Slow Progress in Six-Party Talks..................................3
Major Proposals and Rejections ..................................4
Cleavages Appear Among the Five Parties .........................5
North Korea’s Nuclear Weapons Program Advances..................5
Inter-Korean Relations Move Forward.............................6
Tension in U.S.-South Korean Relations............................6
Abductee Issue Drives Japanese Position...........................7
Japan-U.S. Alliance Strengthens..................................7
Contact Outside of Six-Party Talks................................8
Role of Congress .............................................8
Prospects for Permanent Security Mechanism in Northeast Asia.........9
Other CRS Products on North Korea...............................9
Major Events Prior to the October 2002 U.S.-DPRK Meeting..........10
Events Following the October 2002 U.S.-DPRK Meeting.............12
Build-up to the April 2003 Three-Party Talks.......................17
Build-up to the August 2003 Six-Party Talks.......................24
Build-up to the February 2004 Six-Party Talks......................32
Build-up to the June 2004 Six-Party Talks.........................41th
Attempts to Convene a 4 Round of the Six-Party Talks..............46
List of Figures
Figure 1: Map of the Korean Peninsula................................54
North Korea: A Chronology of Events,
October 2002-December 2004
This report provides a chronology of events relevant to U.S. relations with North
Korea from October 2002 through December 31, 2004. The chronology includes
significant meetings, events, and statements that shed light on the issues surrounding
North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. An introductory analysis provides
background on U.S. policy preceding October 2002 as well as an overview of
developments and dynamics among the major players in the North Korea nuclear
dispute: South Korea, Japan, China, Russia, and the United States. Particular
attention is paid to the demise of the Agreed Framework, the ongoing six-party talks,
China’s prominent role in the negotiations, inter-Korean relations, and the Japanese
abductee issue. Also discussed is Congress’s role in dealing with North Korea,
including the passage of the North Korea Human Rights Act (P.L. 108-333).
U.S. Policy Toward North Korea Preceding October 2002
Shortly after President Bush took office in January 2001, the Administration
declared its intent to undertake a full review of U.S. policy towards North Korea,
distancing itself from the Clinton engagement policy that culminated in Madeleine
Albright’s October 2000 visit to Pyongyang for talks to curtail North Korea’s missile
program.2 The reformulated policy, announced in June 2001, outlined a further
lifting of U.S. sanctions3, increased assistance to North Korea, and “other political
steps” if the North agreed to 1) start to take serious, verifiable steps to reduce the
conventional weapons threat to the South, 2) undertake “improved implementation”
of the 1994 Agreed Framework, and 3) allow verifiable “constraints” on North
Korea’s missile exports. Formal negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang
did not occur, however, during 2001. Following the 9/11 attacks, Bush linked North
Korea to the war on terrorism by including it in the “axis of evil” along with Iraq and
Iran in his January 2002 State of the Union address. The Administration insisted,
1 Prepared by Emma Chanlett-Avery, Analyst in Asian Affairs.
2 For an overview of U.S.-North Korea relations see CRS Issue Brief IB91141, North
Korea’s Nuclear Weapons Program, and CRS Issue Brief IB98045, Korea: U.S.-Korean
Relations — Issues for Congress, by Larry Niksch.
3 For more on U.S. sanctions on and assistance to North Korea, see CRS Report RL31696
North Korea: Economic Sanctions, by Dianne Rennack, CRS Report RS21834, U.S.
Assistance to North Korea: Fact Sheet, by Mark Manyin, and CRS Report RL31785, U.S.
Assistance to North Korea: Issues and Options for U.S. Policy, by Mark Manyin.
however, that its stated policy of resuming a dialogue with the North Koreans “any
time, any place,” remained in effect.
Scheduled bilateral talks were postponed in summer 2002 due to a naval
skirmish between the North and South Koreans; during this delay, U.S. intelligence,
building on evidence dating back to 1998, reportedly indicated that the North
Koreans were secretly developing a highly enriched uranium program. Prospects for
successful talks were derailed when Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly
reportedly presented the North Koreans with evidence of the program during a visit
to Pyongyang in October 2002. North Korea reportedly confirmed the allegations.
The Bush Administration maintained that the suspected uranium program constituted
a breach of Pyongyang’s international obligations under the 1994 Agreed Framework
and the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT). With this confrontation, already
uneasy relations abruptly shifted to a more hostile stance.
The Agreed Framework
The 1994 Agreed Framework, negotiated between the United States and North
Korea, outlined the U.S. commitment to provide North Korea with a package of
economic, diplomatic, and energy-related benefits, and North Korea’s consent to
halt its nuclear program. Specifically, the agreement provided for the shutdown of
North Korea’s plutonium facilities, to be monitored by the International Atomic
Energy Agency (IAEA), in exchange for the annual delivery to North Korea of
500,000 tons of heavy oil and the construction in North Korea of two light water
nuclear reactors. A separate protocol signed in 1995 by the United States, South
Korea, and Japan, established the Korean Peninsula Development Organization
(KEDO) to implement the Agreed Framework. The European Union later joined.
The Agreed Framework Unravels
After the confrontation became public, the Agreed Framework quickly
unraveled. At U.S. urging, KEDO’s executive board decided to halt the heavy fuel
oil shipments in November 2002. This prompted a series of angry and consequential
responses from the North Koreans: shrill denouncements of the U.S. failure to live
up to its obligations under the agreement, the removal of IAEA monitors from the
Yongbyon plant, the expelling of IAEA inspectors from the country, the removal of
fuel rods from the storage pond, and withdrawal from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation
The Six-Party Talks Take Shape
The Bush Administration maintained that a serious flaw of the Clinton approach
during the Agreed Framework talks in the 1990’s was the willingness to engage
Pyongyang in direct bilateral relations, instead of relying on a more multilateral
process to pressure the North into compliance. As the 1994 agreement faltered, the
Administration stood by its conviction that the previous arrangement rewarded North
Korea for bad behavior and failed to engage regional powers, particularly China, in
enforcement. Pyongyang, meanwhile, insisted that direct talks with Washington
were the only way to reach a resolution. Together with the Chinese, the
Administration set the stage for a multilateral forum to address the North Korean
nuclear issue. In April 2003, a round of three-party talks was held in Beijing among
the United States, North Korea (also known as the Democratic People’s Republic of
Korea, or the D.P.R.K.), and China (also known as the People’s Republic of China,
or the P.R.C.). In the month that followed, President Bush met with South Korean
President Roh Moo-hyun and Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, pledging
to include both countries in future talks. North Korea rejected the arrangement. At
the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) in mid-June, China also called for Japan and
South Korea (also known as the Republic of Korea, or the R.O.K.) to “join the
efforts,” and Pyongyang relented. Four months after the three-party talks, the first
round of six party talks convened in Beijing, also including former North Korean
China Emerges as a Key Player
Central to the Administration’s initiative of multilateral talks was the
involvement of China, the North’s last major ally. China earlier had been reluctant
to engage in multilateral efforts to deal with North Korea and did not play a direct
role in the 1994 Agreed Framework. Because China is thought to be North Korea’s
top trading partner and source of aid, Beijing’s cooperation was considered crucial
to any attempts by the international community to put economic pressure on the
Pyongyang regime. President Bush cultivated Chinese cooperation by addressing the
nuclear issue when Chinese President Jiang Zemin visited Crawford, Texas in
October 2002, and later calling Jiang directly to request his help in resolving the
escalating crisis. On both occasions, Jiang stated China’s commitment to a non-
nuclear Korean peninsula. China’s new activism in diplomacy continued under
Jiang’s successor Hu Jintao, who officially assumed the presidency in March 2003.
Chinese leadership pushed firmly for the formation of the six-party talks and,
according to reports, shut down an oil pipeline to North Korea for three days early
in 2003, demonstrating its resolve to Pyongyang. Beijing also reportedly gave the
North Koreans substantial amounts of money, oil, and food in exchange for
attendance at the six-party meetings.
Beijing reportedly fears the profoundly destabilizing effects of either a robust
nuclear-armed North Korea, which could set off an arms race in the region, or the
collapse of the regime, which could send thousands of refugees over the border into
China. China has struggled to deal with tens of thousands of North Koreans who are
believed to be living in and traveling to and from China. Some observers have noted
the limitation of depending on China, which prioritizes stability on the Korean
peninsula above all, while some members of the Bush Administration reportedly
favor regime change in Pyongyang.
Slow Progress in Six-Party Talks
Three rounds of talks — in August 2003, February 2004, and June 2004 —
failed to achieve significant breakthroughs. Analysts blamed a number of factors for
the stalemate: most significantly, intransigence by Pyongyang and inflexibility by
Washington. Semantics also stalled meaningful debate, as negotiators disagreed over
the meaning of phrases such as the U.S.-demanded “complete, verifiable, and
irreversible dismantlement”(which became known by its acronym CVID) of North
Korea’s weapons program and “simultaneous” or “reciprocal” actions. The
formation of working groups during the second round of talks was also criticized as
slowing the process by detracting attention from the higher-level plenary sessions.
Many observers faulted the perceived struggle within the Administration for
severely limiting lead U.S. negotiator Kelly’s freedom to work out compromises.
The United States did not put forward a detailed negotiating proposal until June
According to reports, an influential coalition in the Administration consisted of the
offices of the Secretary of Defense and the Vice President, and non-proliferation
specialists in the State Department and the National Security Council. This group
reportedly opposed direct negotiations with and concessions to North Korea, favored
the issuance of demands for unilateral North Korean concessions on military issues,
and advocated an overall U.S. strategy of isolating North Korea diplomatically and
economically. Officials within this group expressed hope and/or expectations of a
collapse of the North Korean regime. A second faction, mainly in the State
Department and NSC, was composed of officials with experience on East Asian and
Korean issues. This faction believed that the Administration should attempt
negotiations before adopting more coercive measures in order to build coalitions
among the other parties, and they reportedly doubted the effectiveness of a strategy
to bring about a North Korean collapse.4
Major Proposals and Rejections
Despite regular denunciations of the talks, North Korea set forward a series of
vaguely-worded proposals. Prior to the second round of talks, North Korea indicated
that it may be willing to end its nuclear program if the United States issued a non-
aggression pact or security guarantee. President Bush indicated in a statement in
October 2003 that he would support a multilateral security guarantee.5 A separate
plan advanced by the North Koreans in December 2003 included a “freeze”of its
weapons program in exchange for a list of U.S. concessions, including lifting
economic sanctions and energy assistance. The United States rejected this proposal,
insisting on a complete dismantlement of North Korea’s nuclear programs before
entering into other negotiations. The U.S. eventually countered with a proposal at
the June 2004 talks, which was loosely modeled on Libya’s decision to abandon its
nuclear weapons program in December 2003: a freeze of North Korea’s weapons’
program, followed by a series of measures to ensure complete dismantlement, and,
eventually, a permanent security guarantee and discussions on a return to normal
relations. In the interim, Japan and South Korea would provide heavy oil. The
proposal closely resembled one presented by South Korea earlier in the talks. After
some mixed reactions, the North Koreans ultimately rejected the offer. A major
obstacle to the negotiations was North Korea’s suspected uranium enrichment
4 See CRS Issue Brief IB98045, Korea: U.S.-Korean Relations — Issues for Congress, by
5 “Bush Suggests Path To Pyongyang Pact — Multinational Push Targets Nuclear-Arms
Program,” Asian Wall Street Journal. October 20, 2003.
program: North Korean envoys refused to acknowledge its existence, while the
United States insisted that its verified dismantlement be a prerequisite for further
Cleavages Appear Among the Five Parties
Many analysts used a “1-3-2” formulation to describe the dynamics of the six-
party talks: North Korea on its own; South Korea, Russia, and China favoring a more
conciliatory approach of offering incentives to North Korea and more emphasis on
a nuclear freeze instead of dismantlement; and Japan and the United States preferring
a mix of dialogue and pressure on Pyongyang. After the first two rounds of talks
failed to produce breakthroughs, indications of frustration with the U.S. approach
appeared among the other parties. In June 2004, China’s deputy prime minister
asserted that the U.S. had not convinced Beijing that North Korea was pursuing a
uranium program, a suggestion echoed by officials in South Korea.6 At the G-8
summit in Sea Island the same month, Prime Minister Koizumi urged President Bush
to open up a productive dialogue with North Korea, stressing Kim Jong-il’s readiness
to find a resolution. Some speculated that this pressure led to the U.S. proposal at the
June 2004 talks. China and Russia also reportedly voiced some support for allowing
North Korea to use nuclear technology for “peaceful” civilian purposes, while the
United States insisted that all nuclear programs should be dismantled. Following the
June meeting, the talks came to a standstill in the run-up to the U.S. presidential
election. In October 2004, during a trip to Asia by Secretary of State Colin Powell,
both Chinese and South Korean officials criticized the U.S. position, calling for a
more “realistic” and “flexible” approach to resolving the problem, without noting
North Korea’s rejection of the June U.S. proposal.7
North Korea’s Nuclear Weapons Program Advances
As the talks failed to achieve any breakthroughs, North Korea is believed to
have moved ahead with its nuclear weapons program, according to its own statements
and estimates from various intelligence agencies. In the months following the
October 2002 confrontation, North Korea expelled International Atomic Energy
Agency (IAEA) inspectors, removed IAEA seals and monitoring devices, moved
spent fuel rods to its Yongbyon power plant, and announced its withdrawal from the
Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT). In 2002, U.S. and South Korean
intelligence officials indicated that the Yongbyon nuclear reactor was re-started.
Pyongyang officials later claimed that the plutonium from the fuel rods had been
turned into weapons. Rumors of possible nuclear tests or missile launches
proliferated, but North Korea refrained from “physically displaying” its “nuclear
6 “US Softens Tone Toward N. Korea,” Christian Science Monitor. June 24, 2004.
7 “Discord on North Korea as Powell Finishes East Asia Trip,” New York Times. October
deterrent force” as it had threatened.8 At the talks, spokesmen for North Korea also
reportedly made threats that they would export their nuclear weapons.9
Inter-Korean Relations Move Forward
Despite frequent setbacks, North-South relations advanced, particularly on a
variety of humanitarian issues and economic cooperation. President Roh Moo-hyun
pledged in his inaugural address in February 2003 to pursue a policy of “peace and
prosperity” on the Korean peninsula, a policy widely understood to be a continuation
of Kim Dae Jung’s “Sunshine Policy” of political engagement and economic
integration. Bilateral ministerial talks, held on a nearly quarterly basis, led to a wide
range of government-to-government contacts. Unprecedented military talks were
held in June 2004 at the general level; meetings since the 1950’s had not gone
beyond the colonel rank. The talks led to the exchange of radio messages between
North and South Korean vessels and a cessation of the daily broadcasts of
propaganda across the DMZ. Other joint projects, such as a railway linking the two
countries and an industrial park in Kaesong, North Korea for South Korean
companies, also moved forward, causing some to question Seoul’s iterations that
future large-scale assistance to the North first required resolution of the nuclear issue.
South Korea has become North Korea’s second biggest trade partner and aid
provider, spending over $3 billion in assistance since 2000. South Korea’s steadily
increasingly economic engagement with the North reportedly concerned many U.S.
policymakers who advocated a hard-line stance to pressure Pyongyang. Although
Seoul continued to promote a policy of eventual reunification of the peninsula, it also
made clear that its top priority for the short-term was stability, which precludes
precipitating a collapse of the regime in Pyongyang.
Tension in U.S.-South Korean Relations
The progress in inter-Korean relations took place against a backdrop of
uncertainty about the future of the U.S.-South Korea alliance. Anti-American
sentiment reportedly rose among the public in South Korea, particularly after two
schoolgirls were killed accidentally by a U.S. military vehicle in 2002. President Roh
Moo-hyun took office pledging to develop a defense policy more independent of the
United States, but he stood by his decision to send 3,600 troops, medics and
engineers to Iraq despite public opposition to the U.S.-led war. Recent military
configuration decisions — the redeployment of 3,600 U.S. troops to Iraq and the
withdrawal of one third of the 37,000 American troops stationed in the country by the
end of 2005 — alarmed some South Koreans that the United States was not
8 For more on the technical aspects of North Korea’s nuclear programs, see CRS Report
RS21391, North Korea’s Nuclear Weapons: How Soon an Arsenal? by Sharon Squassoni.
For more on North Korea’s missile programs, see CRS Report RS21473, North Korean
Ballistic Missile Threat to the United States, by Andy Feickert.
9 “N. Koreans Tell U.S. Officials They Have Nuclear Weapons,” Washington Post. April
committed to the defense of South Korea.10 Many observers noted a sharp
discrepancy between Seoul and Washington’s public stances on North Korea; in a
speech in Los Angeles in November 2004, Roh suggested that Pyongyang’s claims
to be developing nuclear weapons as a deterrent were “understandable considering
the environment they live in,” insisted that dialogue was the only option, and
described as positive North Korea’s “reward for freeze” proposal.11 The Bush
Administration did not offer a public reaction to Roh’s speech.
Abductee Issue Drives Japanese Position
In September 2002, Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi traveled to
Pyongyang for a historic summit with Kim Jong-il. During the visit, Kim Jong-il
admitted to Koizumi that North Korea had abducted 13 Japanese nationals in the
1970’s and 1980’s. Repercussions from his admission continued to affect Japan’s
role in dealing with North Korea. Facing an outraged Japanese public, Koizumi
prioritized the return to Japan of the abductees in October 2002 and spent further
diplomatic capital to win the release of the abductee family members during a second
summit in Pyongyang in May 2004. While Koizumi reportedly pressed Kim Jong-il
to abandon his nuclear weapons program during the 2004 meeting, he also pledged
in the same visit to provide 250,000 tons of rice and $10 million in other aid to the
North. The Japanese legislature, however, reinforced its threats to cut off economic
assistance to North Korea by passing laws that allow the Japanese government to
impose sanctions on Pyongyang and to ban foreign vessels, suspected of carrying
hard currency, that go to and from North Korea.12 Japan’s position hardened in
December 2004, after Japanese DNA tests invalidated North Korea’s claims that
boxes of remains delivered to Japan were those of deceased kidnap victims.
Following this development, the Japanese government suspended its aid shipments
to North Korea, and calls for an imposition of sanctions increased.
Japan-U.S. Alliance Strengthens
The six nation talks unfolded during a period of unprecedentedly strong U.S.-
Japan security cooperation. Following the attacks of September 11, 2001, Japanese
Self Defense Forces provided logistical support to U.S. military operations in
Afghanistan, the first time that Japan had dispatched its forces overseas for a non-
peacekeeping operation since the end of World War II. Again breaking with its
postwar tradition, Tokyo deployed over 500 troops to southern Iraq to support
humanitarian activities as part of the U.S.-led coalition. In addition, Japan provided
billions of dollars in financial assistance to the reconstruction of Iraq and
10 “US Redeployments to Iraq Rattle South Korean Alliance,” Christian Science Monitor.
May 20, 2004.
11 “Roh’s Unique Point of View,” Asian Wall Street Journal. December 7, 2004.
12 For more on Japan-North Korean relations, see CRS Report RL32428, Japanese Prime
Minister Koizumi’s May 2004 Trip to North Korea: Implications for U.S. Objectives, by
Richard Cronin, CRS Report RL32161, Japan-North Korea Relations: Selected Issues, by
Mark Manyin, and CRS Report RL32137, North Korean Supporters in Japan: Issues for
U.S. Policy, by Emma Chanlett-Avery.
Afghanistan. In the six-party talks, Japan was generally seen as hewing more closely
to the U.S. position than the other participants, but domestic focus on the abductee
issue and security concerns — specifically about North Korea’s missile program —
created somewhat different priorities for Japan. The Bush Administration reportedly
urged Japan not to institute sanctions against North Korea, fearing that sanctions
would damage the six-party talks.13
Contact Outside of Six-Party Talks
As state-to-state contact continued in the six-nation talks, non-Administration
emissaries also made trips to North Korea to explore possible resolutions or to clarify
claims of capability. In May 2003, Representative Curt Weldon led a bipartisan
delegation to Pyongyang and held discussions with government officials on potential
deals to eliminate the North’s nuclear weapons program. A second trip planned in
October 2004 by Representative Weldon was cancelled because of White House
objections. In January 2004, two aides from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
(Frank Januzzi and Keith Luse) accompanied a nuclear scientist (Siegfried Hecker),
and the former senior envoy for negotiations with North Korea (Jack Pritchard) to
Pyongyang and nearby nuclear facilities, including the Yongbyon reactor. The
findings of the trip were viewed as significant because the visitors reported that the
nuclear plutonium facilities other than Yongbyon were defunct; North Korea was
apparently capable of producing plutonium metal; and the 8,000 fuel rods previously
stored and watched by IAEA inspectors had been removed from the cooling pond.
Role of Congress
In addition to the Member and staff delegations, Congress was engaged in issues
concerning North Korea through a series of hearings on the six-party talks as well as
on refugees and human rights. In June 2002, the House of Representatives passedth
H.Con.Res. 213 (107 Congress), which called on China to halt forced returns of
refugees to North Korea and give the U.N. High Commission on Refugees access to
North Korean refugees. Congress also passed H.R. 4011, the North Korean Human
Rights Act of 2004, in September 2004. The act (P.L. 108-333) eases the asylum and
legal immigration process for North Korean refugees and calls for the U.S. executive
branch to adopt a number of measures aimed at furthering human rights in North
Korea, including financial support of non-government human rights groups,
increased radio broadcasts into North Korea, the distribution of radios in North
Korea, and more effective monitoring of food aid. The Administration, although it
brought up human rights concerns briefly in the six-party talks, and generally raised
the issue more often than did previous Administrations, assigned higher priority to
the North’s nuclear program, as well as conventional forces, missiles, and North
Korea’s trade in illicit goods.
13 “Any Japan Economic Penalties Mean ‘War,’ N. Korea Says,” Los Angeles Times.
December 16, 2004.
Prospects for Permanent Security Mechanism in Northeast
Although the six nation talks have reached no significant breakthroughs, the
multilateral approach has provided a forum for Northeast Asian powers to meet
regularly and establish common objectives. The players have achieved a strong
degree of consensus on stopping the spread of weapons of mass destruction and a
shared commitment to maintaining regional stability. Asia watchers speculate that
the six-party format could provide an institutionalized forum for security discussions
in the future. The inclusion of North Korea in the talks may also prove to be valuable
if the state continues to threaten regional stability in the years to come.
Other CRS Products on North Korea
CRS Issue Brief IB98045, Korea: U.S.-Korean Relations — Issues for Congress
CRS Issue Brief IB91141, North Korea’s Nuclear Weapons Program
CRS Report RL31696, North Korea: Economic Sanctions
CRS Report RS21834, U.S. Assistance to North Korea: Fact Sheet
CRS Report RL31785, U.S. Assistance to North Korea: Issues and Options for U.S.
CRS Report RL32493, The North Korean Economy: Background and Policy
CRS Report RS21391, North Korea’s Nuclear Weapons: How Soon an Arsenal?
CRS Report RL31900, Weapons of Mass Destruction: Trade Between North Korea
CRS Report RS21473, North Korean Ballistic Missile Threat to the United States
CRS Report RS21582, North Korean Crisis: Possible Military Options
CRS Report RL32167, Drug Trafficking and North Korea: Issues for U.S. Policy
CRS Report RL32428, Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi’s May 2004 Trip to North
Korea: Implications for U.S. Objectives
CRS Report RL32161, Japan-North Korea Relations: Selected Issues
CRS Report RL32137, North Korean Supporters in Japan: Issues for U.S. Policy
CRS Report RL31906, South Korean Politics and Rising “Anti-Americanism”:
Implications for U.S. Policy Toward North Korea
Major Events Prior to the October 2002 U.S.-DPRK Meeting
3/9/00In a speech in Berlin, ROK President Kim Dae Jung issues his
“Berlin Declaration” signaling Seoul’s interest in extending economic
assistance to North Korea, in exchange for reopening an official
6/13-15/00The North-South Korean summit, Pyongyang, between ROK
President Kim Dae Jung and DPRK leader Kim Jong-il. The two
leaders sign a vaguely worded joint declaration, which indicates their
agreement to work toward unification, exchange visits by members
of divided families, work for “a balanced development” of both
countries’ economies, hold a dialogue between the two governments
at an early date, and increase social and cultural exchanges. The
declaration also mentions that Kim Jong-il accepted Kim Dae Jung’s
invitation to visit Seoul “at an appropriate time.” After returning to
South Korea, Kim Dae Jung states that Kim Jong-il verbally agreed
that even if North-South tensions continued to be reduced, U.S.
troops should remain in South Korea to help preserve regional and
6/19/00The Clinton Administration eases economic sanctions imposed on
North Korea since its invasion of South Korea in 1950.
travels to Washington DC, the first visit to the U.S. by a high-level
10/23/00U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright travels to the DPRK to
pursue talks on North Korea’s missile program.
12/13/01Vice President Al Gore concedes the 2000 presidential election to
Texas Governor George W. Bush, five weeks after the presidential
election was held.
3/6/01Secretary of State Colin Powell states that the Bush Administration
plans to pick up where the Clinton Administration left off in missile
talks with North Korea.
3/7/01The first Bush-Kim Dae Jung summit (in Washington DC), a
meeting both leaders describe as a “frank and honest” exchange of
views. Although expressing his support for President Kim’s sunshine
policy, President Bush rebuffed Kim’s desire for the U.S. to continue
14 Prepared by Mark Manyin, Specialist in Asian Affairs. Parts of the chronology borrow
heavily from timelines compiled by the South Korean Ministry of Unification and by
various contributors to the Comparative Connections e-journal on East Asian Bilateral
Relations (available at [http://www.csis.org/pacfor/ccejournal.html]), particularly Aidan
Foster-Carter, Victor Cha, Donald Gross, and Scott Snyder.
President Clinton’s policy toward North Korea. Expressing his
“skepticism” about the ability of outsiders to verify agreements with
DPRK, Bush indicated that his Administration was conducting a
comprehensive review of U.S. policy toward North Korea. In a
related move, Secretary of State Powell, backing away from his
statements the previous day, denies that a resumption of U.S.-DPRK
negotiations is imminent.
6/6/01The Bush Administration announces it has completed its review
of U.S. DPRK policy. The U.S. will offer the DPRK a further lifting
of U.S. sanctions, assistance to the North Korean people (presumably
food aid), and “other political steps” if the North agrees to 1) start to
take serious, verifiable steps to reduce the conventional weapons
threat to the South, 2) “improved implementation” of the 1994
Agreed Framework, and 3) verifiable “constraints” on North Korea’s
6/29/01Over DPRK objections, China allows a family of seven North
Koreans holed up in a United Nations refugee office to leave the
country, whereupon they depart for the ROK via Singapore and the
Philippines. The family had sneaked into the Beijing office of the
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and asked for
refugee status. The incident becomes a model followed by hundreds
of other North Koreans.
9/11/01Al Qaeda operatives hijack four U.S. commercial airliners and use
them to destroy the World Trade Center towers and hit the Pentagon,
killing nearly 3,000. The subsequent U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan
uncovers evidence of Al Qaeda’s efforts to acquire weapons of mass
President Bush says that Kim Jong-il “needs to earn the trust of the
world. I think he needs to take pressure off of South Korea and off of
the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone)....I know he needs to stop spreading
weapons of mass destruction...”. around the world.” Days later, a
DPRK spokesman says that restarting talks with the U.S. can only be
discussed “when the Bush Administration at least resumes the
position taken at the end of the Clinton Administration.”
1/29/02In his State of the Union address, President Bush says that North
Korea, Iran, and Iraq constitute an “axis of evil” and declares that the
United States will “prevent regimes that sponsor terror from
threatening America or our friends and allies with weapons of mass
2/19-20/02During a trip to the DMZ as part of a tour of East Asia, President
Bush says “We have no intention of invading North Korea.”
6/13/02Two Korean schoolgirls are crushed to death by U.S. military
vehicles during a training exercise in Uijongbu, South Korea. The
incident, plus the subsequent acquittals during the courts martial of
the U.S. soldiers involved, triggers massive demonstrations in Korea
for the rest of 2002.
6/27/02Meeting with DPRK officials in New York, Bush Administration
officials propose holding formal bilateral negotiations on July 10.
The Administration reportedly is prepared to propose a “bold
approach” that would include large-scale economic assistance if the
Pyongyang first agrees to pull back its conventional forces from the
DMZ, end its missile sales, and allow more extensive inspections of
its nuclear program.
6/29/02A North-South naval skirmish in the West Sea that kills 19 South
Korean sailors leads the U.S. to withdraw its proposal for a July 10
meeting with North Korea.
July 2002North Korea modifies important aspects of its centrally-planned
economic system, including allowing prices to better reflect market
values, a huge increase in prices of essentials and in wages, increased
autonomy of enterprises, authorization of the establishment of
markets and other trading centers, and a limited opening of the
economy to foreign investment.
9/17/02At a summit in Pyongyang between Kim Jong-il and Japanese Prime
Minister Junichiro Koizumi, Kim pledged conditionally to extend his
country’s moratorium on missile testing beyond 2003 (when it was
to expire), admitted that North Korean agents had kidnapped 13
Japanese in the 1970s and 1980s, and issued a vague promise to
comply with international agreements related to nuclear issues.
Koizumi, in turn, apologized for Japan’s colonization of the Korean
Peninsula and offered to provide North Korea with a large-scale
economic aid package. In October and November, normalization and
security talks called for by the two leaders stall due to revelations of
Pyongyang’s HEU program and to popular outrage in Japan over
Kim’s admission that the abductions had occurred.
Events Following the October 2002 U.S.-DPRK Meeting
10/3-5/02At U.S.-North Korea talks in Pyongyang, U.S. Assistant Secretary
of State James Kelly and his delegation confront the North Koreans
with evidence of a secret program to enrich uranium for nuclear
10/12-15/02In inter-Korean talks at Mount Kumgang, South Korea agrees to ship
bulldozers, trucks, cement and fuel to assist the rebuilding of cross-
border rail and road links between the two countries.
10/15/02Five Japanese nationals kidnapped by North Korea return to Japan for
the first time in 24 years. Their relatives are not allowed to leave
month, North Korean Deputy Foreign Minister Kang Suk Joo
admitted that North Korea has a HEU program.
10/16/02President Bush signs into law the “Authorization for the Use of Force
Against Iraq Resolution of 2002,” (P.L. 107-243) which was passed
by Congress the preceding week.
10/18-21/02Traveling to China, South Korea and Japan, Assistant Secretary of
State James Kelly says the U.S. starts consultations with the three
countries to bring “maximum international pressure” on North Korea
to dismantle its nuclear program.
10/20-23/02At the eighth round of inter-Korean ministerial talks held in
Pyongyang, North and South Korea release an eight-point statement
that includes a pledge to cooperate to solve the nuclear issue through
dialogue. The two parties also decide to begin work on an industrial
complex at Kaesong, North Korea in December.
10/20/02Speaking on NBC television, Secretary of State Colin Powell says the
1994 Agreed Framework is nullified since Pyongyang has admitted
to U.S. officials that it has been pursuing a covert uranium-based
nuclear weapons program.
10/21/02During a meeting with visiting South Korean delegates, North Korean
ceremonial head of state, Kim Yong Nam, announces that North
Korea is ready for talks on its nuclear weapons if Washington is
willing to withdraw “its hostile policy.”
President Bush tells reporters in the Oval Office that he will use
diplomatic pressure to try to persuade North Korea to dismantle its
nuclear weapons program.
10/22/02In a statement carried by the Korean Central News Agency, North
Korea warns it will be forced to take “tougher counteraction” if the
U.S. continues to pressure Pyongyang over its nuclear weapons
10/25/02A North Korean Foreign Ministry statement, released by the state-run
KCNA news agency, says North Korea is willing to address U.S.
concerns if Washington agrees to a non-aggression treaty, recognizes
North Korea’s sovereignty, and does not hinder its economic
10/25/02At a summit with President Bush at Crawford ranch, Chinese
President Jiang Zemin says “the Korean peninsula ought to be nuclear
10/26/02After 20-minute talks on the sidelines of an Asian-Pacific summit
held at Los Cabos, Mexico, President Bush, South Korea President
Kim Dae Jung and Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi issue
a joint statement calling on North Korea to “dismantle its program in
a prompt and verifiable manner.” Secretary of State Powell tells
reporters that action will be limited to diplomatic and political
pressure, with neither economic penalties nor other sanctions for the
moment, adding that Washington has no intention of talking to
Pyongyang until it dismantles its uranium enrichment program. Kim
also stresses that the 1994 agreement kept Pyongyang from pursuing
plutonium weapons development, urging Bush “not to create a new
crisis” by scrapping the pact.
10/26/02A North Korean delegation, led by Park Nam Gi, chairman of the
State Planning Committee, begins a nine-day study tour of South
Korea’s market economy.
Malaysia, Japan and North Korea fail to reach an agreement on
Tokyo’s demands for the North to halt its nuclear weapons program
and on the permanent return of five Japanese abducted 24 years
previous by North Korean spies.
10/31/02Red Cross officials from South and North Korea begin their three-day
talks at Mt. Kumgang, North Korea to discuss the establishment of a
permanent meeting place for families separated by the Korean War.
10/31-11/2/02At Inter-Korean working-level talks held in Pyongyang, North and
South Koreas focus on details of the construction of the industrial
complex in Kaesong.
11/2-5/02After a visit to Pyongyang at the invitation of the North’s vice-foreign
minister Kim Kye Gwan, former U.S. Ambassador to South Korea
Donald Gregg, accompanied by two U.S. academics, says North
Korea believes that “simultaneous steps” to resolve the crisis with the
United States over its nuclear weapons program can be taken.
11/6/02A KEDO shipment of 42,500 tonnes of heavy fuel oil leaves
Singapore for North Korea.
Japan and South Korea once again call on North Korea to dismantle
its nuclear weapons development program in a “prompt and verifiable
manner”and pledge to seek a peaceful resolution of the crisis. South
Korea and Japan object to the U.S. decision to suspend the shipments
of heavy fuel oil to North Korea and agree that the 1994 Geneva
Agreed Framework should be maintained.
11/9/02At a third round of an inter-Korean economic cooperation committee
meeting in Pyongyang, North and South Korea agree to continue
economic cooperation and agree to set dates for the connection of
cross-border railways and roads and the construction of the Kaesong
11/11/02Japanese Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi and South Korean
Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Choi Sung Hong meet in Seoul
at the Ministerial Conference of the Community of Democracies, and
agree to redouble efforts to persuade the U.S. to keep the Agreed
Framework in place.
11/13/02In a meeting with his national security team, President Bush decides
to cut off U.S. oil shipments to North Korea after the November
heavy fuel oil delivery unless North Korea dismantles its nuclear
weapons program. Consul General Ri To Sop, North Korea’s top
diplomat in Hong Kong, tells Reuters that any move to halt crucial
shipments of oil to Pyongyang would be considered a hostile act.
11/14/02The KEDO executive board (comprised of the U.S., ROK, Japan, and
EU) decides to suspend fuel oil supplies to North Korea from
11/21/02For the second time in six days, the South Korean Navy fires warning
shots at a North Korean patrol boat that crossed the Northern Limit
Line (NLL), the naval border demarcation that North Korea has never
11/27/02Chinese police arrest Yang Bin, the Chinese businessman tapped by
North Korea to head its special economic zone in Shinuiju, on
charges including fraud and bribery.
11/28/02North and South Korean soldiers resume mine-clearing operations on
the DMZ as part of a project to reconnect cross-border railways and
roads after a three-week delay of the project due to North Korea’s
refusal to cooperate in agreed land mine removal verification
11/29/02The IAEA Board of Governors reportedly calls on North Korea to
“accept without delay” inspections of its alleged uranium nuclear
program. Three days later, KCNA reports that North Korean Foreign
Minister Paek Nam-Sun rejects the IAEA’s demand.
12/2/02In a joint declaration, Russian Vladimir Putin and Chinese President
Jiang Zemin call on North Korea to “denuclearize” and for a
normalization of relations between Pyongyang and Washington “on
the basis of continued observation of earlier reached agreements.”
12/3/02North Korea rejects Seoul’s proposal to hold a working-level military
meeting to discuss passage through the Military Demarcation Line by
the two sides to prepare for South Korean tourists’ overland visits to
Mt. Kumgang, saying the two sides should finalize other details for
the road inspection and pilot tour before their militaries meet.
12/7-9/02Hundreds of thousands of South Koreans protest in Seoul after
courts-martial acquit two U.S. servicemen who accidentally killed
two South Korean teenage girls in June.
12/6-8/02In a joint statement issued after working-level talks at Mount
Kumgang resort, the two Koreas agree to begin construction on the
Kaesong Industrial Complex in late December and to make efforts to
work out agreement on communication, inspections and quarantine
issues related to the operation of the industrial complex.
12/10/02Two Spanish warships intercept in the Gulf of Aden a North Korean
ship carrying 15 complete Scud missile bodies, 15 highly-explosive
conventional warheads and nitric acid headed for Yemen. Days later,
the ships are allowed to proceed to their destination, complete with
12/11/02The scheduled opening of the overland border for tourists bound for
Mt. Kumgang is delayed due to the North Korea’s request for tour
fees of U.S. $10 million and complications with military approval on
tourist passage through the DMZ.
12/12/02The KCNA reports the North Korean foreign ministry says North
Korea will “immediately resume the operation and construction of its
nuclear facilities to generate electricity”, following KEDO’s decision
to suspend oil shipments to the country.
12/15-17/02At talks at Mount Kumgang resort, South and North Korea Red Cross
agree to organize a sixth round of family reunions in February 2003
and to form a working group for the reconstruction of a meeting
house, adding the two sides will meet in January 2003 to discuss the
agreement in detail.
12/21/02IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei says North Korea “cut
most of the seals and impeded the functioning of surveillance
equipment” at one of its 5-megawatt reactors at Yongbyon.
Kumgang through the demilitarized zone (DMZ).
12/23/02A South Korean foreign ministry official says North Korea has begun
removing U.N. seals from a sensitive nuclear laboratory used for
extracting weapons-grade plutonium from spent fuel rods at
12/23/02At a working-level military meeting held in Panmunjom, South and
North Koreas fail to reach an agreement allowing civilian traffic on
inter-Korean roads crossing the DMZ, due to North Korea’s refusal
to abide by South Korea’s demand that all border crossings be
reported to the United Nations Command, as required under the
armistice that ended the Korean War. The disagreement delays a
scheduled groundbreaking of the Kaesong industrial park and the
openings of inter-Korean roads to Kaesong and Mt. Kumgang. All
were scheduled to happen the following week.
12/26/02The IAEA confirms that North Korea has begun removing spent
plutonium fuel rods from their storage pond at Yongbyon.
South and North Koreas agree to open the first inter-Korean sea route.
They depart North Korea four days later. North Korea also says it
plans to reopen its plutonium reprocessing plant.
12/30/02A ceremony to break ground for the Kaesong Industrial Complex is
cancelled due to North Korea’s refusal to give the U.N. Command
names of all people crossing the DMZ.
Build-Up to the April 2003 Three-Party Talks
1/6/03In an emergency meeting in Vienna, the IAEA adopts a resolution
that “deplores” North Korea’s decision to restart its plutonium
nuclear program and calls on North Korea to immediately give up any
nuclear weapons program.
1/9/03With the State Department’s permission, two North Korean
representatives to the U.N., Hang Song Ryol and Mun Jong Chol,
meet with New Mexico governor Bill Richardson, who cites the
North Korea’s “willingness to solve the nuclear issue through
Proliferation Treaty because it is “most seriously threatened” by the
1/10/03President Bush calls Chinese President Jiang Zemin asking for direct
help in resolving the growing nuclear crisis with North Korea.
President Jiang Zemin reiterates “China’s commitment to a non-
nuclear Korean peninsula.”
1/11/03DPRK ambassador to China, Choe Jin Su, says Pyongyang could end
the 1999 ballistic missile test moratorium.
1/12/03North Korea’s state newspaper Rodong Sinmun says, “The claim that
we admitted developing nuclear weapons is an invention fabricated
by the U.S. with sinister intentions.” The article warns that
Pyongyang will consider any move to impose economic sanctions
will be considered a “declaration of war” and if challenged will “turn
the citadel of imperialists into a sea of fire.”
1/13/03After meeting with South Korean officials, including President-elect
Roh, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State James A. Kelly says at a news
conference that “once we get beyond the nuclear problems, there may
be an opportunity with the United States, with private investors, or
with other countries to help North Korea in the energy area.”
to help North Korea with food and energy if it dismantles its
nuclear weapons programs.
1/17/03Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage tells Japanese reporters
that Washington is considering a plan to replace the 1994 framework
agreement with North Korea with a new “comprehensive” pact that
would guarantee North Korean security in exchange for its
abandonment of all weapons of mass destruction. Armitage says
Pyongyang’s demand for a “non-aggression treaty” is unrealistic
because it could not get through Congress. But the U.S. is willing to
give a written guarantee of its peaceful intentions in “a letter or an
1/20/03Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Losyukov and Kim
Jong-il meet in Pyongyang, at which Kim reportedly expresses a
willingness to negotiate a new inspection program, provided North
Korea is given assurances of security and economic assistance, and
that bilateral talks with the U.S. are opened.
1/20/03Secretary of State Colin L. Powell calls on the IAEA to refer the
North Korean case to the U.N. Security Council.
with few results.
1/22-25/03A second round of working-level talks on road and rail linkages, held
in Pyongyang, agrees on various practicalities.
1/25/03Following South Korean requests, the IAEA postpones a scheduled
emergency meeting on the North Korean.
1/27/03At a military working-level meeting at Panmunjom, the two Koreas
adopt an interim agreement on military guarantees for the use of
temporary roads across the DMZ.
1/28/03In his State of the Union speech, President Bush says “the North
Korean regime is using its nuclear program to incite fear and seek
concessions. America and the world will not be blackmailed.”
1/31/03KCNA quotes a DPRK Foreign Ministry spokesman as saying that
Bush’s speech was “an undisguised declaration of aggression to
topple the DPRK.” The spokesman calls Bush a “shameless
charlatan” and “the incarnation of misanthropy.”
2/1/03The North & South Korean teams march together under a “unification
flag” at the opening ceremony of the Winter Asian Games in Misawa,
2/4/03In testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Deputy
Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage says “of course we’re going
to have to have direct talks with the North Koreans,” though in a
multilateral context. Reportedly, these remarks lead the
Administration to ban all public discussion of one-on-one talks with
2/5/03North Korea announces the reactivation of its nuclear reactor at
Yongbyon for “peaceful purposes.”
director, Ri Pyong-gap says that any decision by the United States to
send more troops to the region could lead his government to launch
a pre-emptive attack on U.S. forces.
2/11/03Citing the North Korean nuclear crisis, Moody’s Investors Services
downgrades South Korea’s credit rating outlook by two notches, from
positive to negative.
2/11-14/03At the 4th Inter-Korean Economic Cooperation Promotion Committee
meeting, in Seoul, the two sides agree to meet again. South Korea
warns that progress on economic projects depends on resolving the
2/12/03By a 33-0 vote, the IAEA Board of Governors declares North Korea
in violation of non- proliferation accords and refers the crisis to the
U.N. Security Council, a step that could lead to sanctions, which
North Korea has said would constitute a “declaration of war.” Russia
and Cuba abstain.
2/12/03Testifying at a Senate committee hearing in Washington, the director
of the CIA, George Tenet, says North Korea might already be capable
of hitting the West Coast of the US, as well Alaska and Hawaii, with
an untested long-range nuclear missile.
2/14/03Kim Dae Jung apologizes for the $500 million Hyundai secretly sent
to North Korea in the days before the June 2000 summit.
2/14/03The official opening of a 23-mile land route to Mt. Kumgang across
2/15/03Japan’s defense minister, Shigeru Ishiba, warns his country would be
entitled to attack North Korea if it had firm evidence North Korea
was planning a missile attack.
2/19/03The U.N. Security Council takes up the North Korean nuclear crisis
for the first time, but defers making a decision on how to respond.
2/19/03A North Korean fighter jet briefly crosses seven miles into South
Korean airspace over the Yellow Sea, prompting the South Korean air
force to send six fighter planes of its own and put ground-to-air
missiles on alert. South Korea’s military say that the two-minute
incursion was the first one since 1983.
elect Roh Moo-hyun, says that he opposes any U.S. military action to
force Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear programs. “An attack on
North Korea could trigger a war engulfing the entire Korean
Peninsula,” Roh said. “It’s a serious issue, and at this moment I am
against even consideration of such an option.’”
2/20-25/03Two sets of inter-Korean family reunions, the 6th, are held at Mount
Kumgang. The South Korean participants travel via the newly-
opened land route through the DMZ.
2/23-25/03Secretary of State Colin Powell travels to Japan, China, and South
Korea, pressing the case for a multilateral discussion over the North
Korean nuclear issue. On the plane returning from South Korea, he
says: “We’ve...made it clear that if they [the North Koreans] begin
reprocessing, it changes the entire political landscape, and we are
making sure that that is communicated to them in a number of
2/24/03China and Russia block an informal discussion about North Korea
among the U.N. Security Council’s five permanent members and say
they would not attend a session that France seeks to organize.
2/25/03Roh Moo-hyun inaugurated as ROK President. In his inaugural
address, Roh promises to pursue a policy of “peace and prosperity”
on the Korean peninsula and emphasizes that the North Korean issueth
should be resolved peacefully through dialogue. The 16 South
Korean President also says Pyongyang must abandon nuclear
2/26/03U.S. officials announce that satellite evidence indicates North Korea
has restarted its nuclear reactor at Yongbyon.
2/26/03South Korea’s opposition-controlled National Assembly delays
approval of Roh’s new Cabinet until a bill is passed appointing a
special counsel to probe the issue of cash payments before the June
2000 summit. In March, Roh signs a bill appointing a special counsel
to investigate the “cash for peace” scandal.
2/27/03U.S. deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, Richard Lawless, and
South Korean head of the Defense Ministry’s policy department, Cha
Young-koo, start talks on the relocation and reduction of U.S. bases
and troops, including the main army base in Yongsan, central Seoul.
March 2003China reportedly shuts down an oil pipeline to North Korea for three
days. Some news reports say the shutdown occurred after North
Korea test-fired a cruise missile into the Sea of Japan on March 10.
3/1/03The U.S. Defense Department decides to “immediately” send two
dozen long-range bombers to Guam. The bombers, 12 B-52’s and 12
B-1’s, had already been put on alert status at their previous bases in
3/2/03Four North Korean fighter jets intercept and shadow for 22 minutes
a U.S. reconnaissance plane on a routine intelligence mission in
international airspace over the Sea of Japan, forcing it to abort its
mission and return to Kadena Air Base, Japan.
3/3/03North Korean radio reports that Kim Jong-il has warned that “nuclear
war could break out if the United States attacks his country’s nuclear
raises for the first time the possibility of using military forces against
North Korea as a “last choice” if multilateral diplomacy fails to
persuade North Korea to abandon its nuclear program.
3/4/03The United States and South Korea begin “Foal Eagle” large-scale
joint military exercises, due to run until April 2.
3/5/03North Korea’s Rodong Shinbun calls for a non-aggression treaty with
the United States.
3/6/03Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld says he is considering a possible
redeployment of U.S. troops in South Korea, including moving them
southward, outside of North Korean artillery range, and consolidating
them into an “air hub” and a “sea hub.” Within hours of Rumsfeld’s
remarks, South Korean Prime Minister Goh Kun meets with U.S.
Ambassador Thomas Hubbard, and asks the U.S. to delay talks on
troop redeployment, saying it would be “inappropriate to talk about
redeploying U.S. troops at this time, given the tension surrounding
the nuclear issue.”
3/6/03At a prime-time news conference, President Bush says that “the best
way” to deal with the North Korea nuclear issue is in “a multilateral
3/10/03North Korea test-fires another short-range missile into the Sea of
3/10-12/03At rail and road talks in Kaesong, the two Koreas agree to start
relinking two trans-DMZ railways in late March.
3/11/03Representatives of South Korea’s two largest labor unions hold talks
with their North Korean counterparts in Pyongyang.
3/12/03South Korea’s Foreign Minister Yoon Young-kwan says that
Washington “should be more active in showing its will to resolve the
issue with North Korea.”
Assistant Secretary of State James A. Kelly says that production of
highly enriched uranium is probably “a matter of months, not years.”
3/19/03U.S.-led coalition begins war with Iraq. South Korea’s military is
placed on its highest alert in seven years.
3/21/03North Korea postpones talks on economic exchanges and maritime
co-operation with South Korea, citing South Korea’s heightened
military alert and on-going military exercises with the United States.
Command at Panmunjon, saying it could take “new important
measures” to protest the U.S.-ROK Foal Eagle military exercises.
meet his counterpart and reportedly presents a “road map” for
bringing Pyongyang to multilateral talks to end the nuclear crisis.
3/31/03In a meeting in New York, between U.S. special envoy Jack Pritchard
and Han Song Ryol, North Korea’s deputy U.N. ambassador, Han
reportedly claims that North Korea has begun reprocessing
3/31/03In an interview with the Financial Times, South Korean national
security advisor Ra Jong-yil reports that South Korea is considering
a deal to give Russian gas to North Korea if it agrees to give up its
4/1/03The U.S. announces that six F-117 stealth fighter jets and about ten
F-15 fighter jets brought to South Korea for joint military exercises
will stay in South Korea indefinitely.
4/1/03South Korea’s national security adviser, Ra Jong-yil, begins a week
of talks in Russia and China to propose a plan to settle the North
Korean nuclear crisis, under which North Korea would abandon its
nuclear arms program in return for gas from Russia.
4/2/03South Korea’s National Assembly approves President Roh’s plan to
dispatch 700 non-combat troops to Iraq. The vote, which passed 179-
68, was delayed twice due to rising anti-war sentiment. Hours before
the vote, Roh appeared before the National Assembly asking for its
support, saying “I have come to the conclusion that extending help to
the United States...is far more helpful to resolving the North Korean
nuclear problem peacefully than increasing friction for the sake of
some [anti-war] cause.”
4/7-9/03Scheduled 10th round of North-South inter-ministerial talks are not
4/9/03The U.N. Security Council fails to condemn North Korea from
withdrawing from the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, as China and
Russia, two permanent members, are opposed to sanctions.
4/10/03North Korea’s withdrawal from the Non-Proliferation Treaty
4/11/03In an interview with Interfax news agency, Russian Deputy Foreign
Minister, Aleksander Losyukov, says that Russia would continue to
oppose international sanctions against North Korea, but it would
“seriously” reconsider its position in case North Korea begins
producing nuclear weapons.
4/12/03KCNA quotes a Foreign Ministry spokesman as saying that if the
United States was “ready to make a bold switchover in its Korea
policy for a settlement of the nuclear issue,” then North Korea would
“not stick to any particular dialogue format.”
4/12/03A shipment, loaded with 22 tons of aluminum tubing that some allege
could be built into centrifuges that can enrich uranium for use in
nuclear weapons and destined for North Korea, is intercepted in Cairo
at the request of the German government.
4/16/03The United States, North Korea and China agree to hold trilateral
talks in Beijing beginning April 23.
4/16/03The 53- member U.N. Commission on Human Rights votes by 28 in
favor of a resolution condemning North Korea for “systemic,
widespread and grave” human rights violations and for “torture and
other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment” of its citizens. A total
of 10 countries, including China and Russia, voted against the
resolution and 14 member States abstained. The South Korean
delegation left the room before the vote took place.
4/18/03KCNA’s English edition quotes a North Korean foreign ministry
spokesman as saying that North Korea has learned from the US-led
war on Iraq that it needs “a powerful deterrent” and admits it is
successfully reprocessing more than 8,000 spent fuel rods. However,
analysts note the initial Korean-language version of the article says
that North Korea is only on the verge of reprocessing. The English
version is pulled from the KCNA website.
4/20/03Australia seizes a North Korean cargo ship, the Pong Su, for alleged
trafficking in $48 million worth of heroin.
4/23-26/03Three-Party talks held in Beijing between the United States, North
Korea and China. North Korea’s lead negotiator, Ri Gun, reportedly
offers to give up its nuclear program, allow international inspectors,
and halt its missile sales in exchange for major concessions from the
United States, such as normalized relations, economic aid and a non-
aggression pact. U.S. lead negotiator James Kelley reportedly says the
U.S. seeks the “verifiable and irreversible” elimination of the
DPRK’s nuclear weapons program before it will discuss benefits to
be given to North Korea. Li also claims that North Korea has
reprocessed all 8,000 spent nuclear fuel rods. In an impromptu
corridor conversation with Kelley — held because the U.S. team
declines to meet in a formal bilateral setting with the North Koreans
— Li is said to claim his country has nuclear weapons and might test,
export, or use them.
Build-Up to the August 2003 Six-Party Talks
4/27-30/03North and South Koreas hold the 10th inter-ministerial talks in
Pyongyang. In a joint communique, the two Koreas state that they
“will fully discuss the other party’s position” regarding the North’s
nuclear weapons programs. North Korea initially insisted that the
nuclear issue was a matter to be discussed only with the U.S. The
two Koreas agree to continue economic and humanitarian programs,
including re-linking rail and road links, constructing the Kaesong
industrial park, and building a permanent family reunion center.
4/28/03Japanese authorities file charges against Meishin, a Japanese trading
company, for unauthorized shipments to North Korea of items that
could be used in the process of enriching uranium.
5/6/03At President Bush’s ranch in Crawford, Texas, he and Australian
Prime Minister John Howard reportedly discuss ways to stop future
North Korean nuclear proliferation activities.
5/7/03South Korean Foreign Minister, Yoon Young-kwan, says Pyongyang
cannot expect the concessions it is seeking from the United States
unless it gives up its nuclear weapons program first.
5/13/03KCNA reports that the 1992 Joint Declaration on the
Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula is “dead” because “the U.S.
government had torpedoed the process of denuclearization on the
5/14/03First Roh-Bush summit, in Washington. The two leaders issue a
joint statement declaring that they “will not tolerate nuclear weapons
in North Korea,” and their “strong commitment to work for the
complete, verifiable and irreversible elimination of North Korea’s
nuclear weapons program through peaceful means based on
international cooperation.” President Roh stated that “future inter-
Korean exchanges and cooperation will be conducted in light of
developments on the North Korean nuclear issue.”
5/15/03In a press conference, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is quoted
by Reuters as saying “the U.S. still may reduce the size of the 37,000
soldiers stationed in Korea,” though “nothing has been finalized and
any changes will be established after close discussion with the Korean
government in the long term.”
5/19-23/03The 5th Inter-Korean Economic Cooperation Promotion Committee
meeting in Pyongyang ends with Seoul’s pledge to ship 400,000 tons
of rice to North Korea, and with agreement to hold several activities
in June: opening ceremonies for inter-Korean rail connections, a
groundbreaking and for the Kaesong industrial park, and joint surveys
for the prevention of flood damage in the Imjin River basin. The
talks were momentarily suspended after North Korea threatened
South Korea with “unspeakable disaster” if Seoul continues to side
with the United States in the nuclear crisis, and reportedly resumed
only after the South Korean delegation was on the verge of walking
5/22-23/03After talks at Crawford in Texas, President Bush and Japanese Prime
Minister Junichiro Koizumi agree they cannot tolerate the possession,
the development, or the transfer of nuclear weapons by North Korea
and that further escalation of the situation will require “tougher
measures” from the international community. Bush expresses his
desire to broaden the North Korea talks to include Japan and South
Korea, and expresses his support for a “full accounting” of all
5/24/03Quoted by the KCNA, a North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman
says multilateral talks would be more “fruitful” if the United States
and North Korea held one-on-one talks first.
5/27/03In a joint statement on the results of talks hold in Moscow, Russian
President Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao
declare that the use of force to resolve the North Korean nuclear crisis
would be “unacceptable,” but maintain Pyongyang has to drop its
nuclear ambitions. The statement notes that “North Korea’s security
must be guaranteed and conditions created to facilitate its
5/29-31/03Visiting North Korea to discuss the nuclear crisis, a delegation of
U.S. lawmakers, led by Representative Curt Weldon meet with senior
North Korean leaders. Weldon later says the North Koreans
“admitted to having nuclear capability” as well as trying to “expand
their nuclear production program.”
nation Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) to tighten export controls
and reach agreements among nations to allow interdictions of ships
and aircraft carrying suspected weapons-of-mass destruction-related
6/1-2/03At a summit in Evian-les-Bains, France, G-8 leaders issue a statement
that WMD proliferation and terrorism are the “pre-eminent threat[s]”
to international security. The leaders “strongly urge North Korea to
visibly, verifiably and irreversibly dismantle any nuclear weapons
6/2/03South Korea’s navy fires warning shots at four North Korean fishing
boats that briefly crossed the western sea border, one of many
incursions in early June.
to the south of the Han River in two phases.
6/6-8/03After their first summit meeting, in Tokyo, Japanese Prime Minister
Junichiro Koizumi and South Korean President Roh Moo Hyun
jointly declare that a nuclear-armed Pyongyang “will not be tolerated”
and call for South Korea and Japan to be included in future
negotiations over North Korea’s nuclear program. In a joint news
conference, Koizumi says that “South Korea, the United States and
Japan should...take a tougher measure if North Korea escalates the
situation further,” while Roh says “the ROK places greater weight on
dialogue, while both dialogue and pressure are important factor in
regard to the issue of North Korea.”
South Korean delegation commutes daily (a 90-minute bus ride) from
Seoul through the DMZ, the first time that South Korean delegates to
inter-Korean talks commute from home to the North.
6/9/03U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage says five-country
talks, including both Koreas, the United States, China and Japan,
might take place within a month or two as North Korea’s opposition
to multilateral talks appears to be weakening.
6/9/03KCNA quotes a North Korea official as saying that North Korea is
“...not trying to possess a nuclear deterrent in order to blackmail
others but we are trying to reduce conventional weapons and divert
our human and monetary resources to economic development and
improve the living standards of the people.” He warns that “the
DPRK will build up a powerful physical deterrent force...unless the
U.S. gives up its hostile policy toward the DPRK.”
6/12/03The 11 nations participating in the PSI hold their first official
meeting, in Madrid, to discuss on how to use or change international
law to intercept shipments of weapons of mass destruction in
international waters and airspace.
6/12-13/03During a TCOG meeting, South Korea reportedly submits a detailed
proposal for resolving the nuclear dispute. Japan and South Korea
reportedly object to a U.S. proposal to halt KEDO’s construction of
light-water reactors in North Korea. The three countries agree to
continue to seek a complete, verifiable, and irreversible end to North
Korea’s nuclear weapons program through peaceful, diplomatic
6/15/03North Korea holds a grand festival for national reunification to mark
the third anniversary of the June 2000 inter-Korean summit.
6/18/03At the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) in Cambodia, U.S. Secretary
of State Colin Powell speaks for less than five minutes with North
Korea’s top delegate, with Ambassador-at-Large Ho Jong, and
reiterates the need for multilateral talks to end Pyongyang’s nuclear
program. In his speech, Jong says North Korea is “not opposed to
multilateral dialogue on its nuclear program,” but it wants to “sit
down first with the United States to confirm the real U.S. intentions.”
Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing says that China “would like to
see Japan and South Korea join the efforts,” adding to reporters that
North Korea’s security concerns “should be appropriately addressed.”
6/18/03KCNA quotes a Foreign Ministry spokesman as saying “the DPRK
will put further spurs to increasing its nuclear deterrent force...as a
just self-defense measure to cope with the U.S. strategy to isolate and
stifle the DPRK....”
6/19/03U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Negroponte circulates a draft of
a non-binding U.N. Security Council presidential statement that
“condemns North Korea’s nuclear weapons programs,” and its
“breach of its international obligations....”
6/25/03A South Korean independent counsel concludes that $100 million of
the $500 million transferred from the Hyundai group to North Korea
ahead of the 2000 summit was government money.
6/30/03A ground-breaking ceremony for the construction of Kaesong
industrial site is held.
7/1/03The New York Times reports the CIA has informed U.S. allies in
Asia that U.S. satellites have identified an advanced testing site at
Yongdok where North Korea could be developing the technology to
fit nuclear warheads onto its missiles.
7/2/03At an informal meeting of the U.N. Security Council’s five permanent
members, China and Russia reportedly oppose a U.S. proposal to
issue a U.N. Security Council presidential statement denouncing
North Korea’s nuclear weapon programs program.
Chinese President Hu Jintao says that “it is also important to seriously
consider North Korea’s security concerns” for negotiations to be
successful. Speaking at Tsinghua University, Roh says that
“reunification is our dream...but what is more important than
reunification is peace. It is no good if reunification breaks the peace.”
7/8/03During an informal meeting in New York, North Korean Ambassador
to the U.N. Park Gil Yon tells the State Department’s envoy for North
Korean affairs Jack Pritchard that North Korea finished reprocessing
all of the 8,000 spent nuclear fuel rods stored at its Yongbyon
complex on June 30.
7/9-12/03The 11th Inter-Korean ministerial talks in Seoul. A joint statement
released pledges to resolve the nuclear crisis peacefully “through an
appropriate dialogue [format],” and to proceed with joint economic,
cultural, and humanitarian projects, including constructing a
permanent reunion center for separated families at Mt. Kumgang.
7/11/03The 11 PSI members meet in Brisbane, Australia and agree to share
intelligence and hold joint military exercises.
7/12/03Media outlets quote U.S. intelligence sources as saying that Krypton
85 gas, a by-product released into the atmosphere when spent fuel
rods are reprocessed into weapons-grade plutonium, has been
detected in the air close to North Korea’s nuclear plants at Yongbyon.
7/12-15/03Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Dai Bingguo, visits Pyongyang, where
he reportedly urges Kim to accept US-proposed multilateral talks.
a reported U.S. proposal to suspend the project.
7/17/03A meeting of the Bush administration’s Cabinet level officials on
national security matters exclusively devoted to the North Korean
7/17/03South and North Korean soldiers briefly exchange machine-gun fire
at the DMZ.
7/18/03Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Dai Bingguo visits Washington, meets
with Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Colin Powell,
and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice.
7/20/03Anonymous American and Asian officials quoted in the New York
Times say the raised levels of Krypton 85 gas on North Korea’s
borders provide strong evidence that a second secret plant, built for
producing weapons-grade plutonium, may be operating in North
7/22/03White House spokesman Scott McClellan says “no substantive
progress can be made on key issues unless they [South Korea and
Japan] are included.”
7/25/03U.S. State Department imposes sanctions on North Korean enterprise
Changgwang Sinyong Corporation for selling Scud missiles to
7/27-8/1/03Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security
John Bolton travels to Beijing, Seoul and Tokyo. In Seoul, he delivers
a speech identifying three separate but complementary tracks for
dealing with the North Korean nuclear issue: multilateral talks with
North Korea, the U.N. Security Council, and the PSI. The speech is
notable for mentioning Kim Jong-il over 40 times.
7/29-31/03At Inter-Korean working-level economic talks in Kaeseong, North
and South Korea agree to implement four economic agreements,
originally signed in December 2000, covering double taxation,
investment protection, taxation, dispute settlement, and payment
clearance. The four ratified documents are officially exchanged on
August 20. The two Koreas also signed agreements on confirming
the origin of each other’s products and to designate settlement banks
for bilateral trade.
7/30/03North Korea says it will stop its anti-South Korean propaganda
broadcasts that Voice of National Salvation, a North Korean radio
station, has aired since 1970.
AugustAccording to the Japanese news sources, Chinese investigators
confiscate from a container on a Pyongyang-bound train on the border
with North Korea a liquid substance called tributyl phosphate (TBP),
used as a solvent to extract weapons-grade plutonium from spent
nuclear fuel rods.
that North Korea will enter six-party multilateral talks.
Chung was charged with facilitating illicit payments to North Korea.
8/7/03Media reports surface that in early August Taiwanese customs
boarded, at the request of U.S. intelligence authorities, a North
Korean freighter transporting illegal chemicals that could be used in
the manufacture of nuclear weapons.
8/7/03Speaking at Washington’s Foreign Press Center, Secretary of State
Colin Powell reiterates that the U.S. government is prepared to
provide a written security assurance, but it will not enter into a non-
aggression pact, adding the document would be a collective security
guarantee, endorsed by the other countries at the negotiating table.
8/9/03South Korean navy boats fire warning shots at North Korean boats
that crossed the NLL.
8/13/03KCNA quotes a North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman as saying
that a non-aggression pact is the only way to resolve the crisis and
rejects an early inspection of North Korean facilities as “impossible
and unthinkable” without changes in U.S. policy.
8/13/03In Moscow, envoys from DPRK and the ROK meet. Following the
talks, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Losyukov says that
the “abyss of distrust” between the U.S. and the DPRK likely dooms
hope of a deal and says Russia and China “might offer additional
guarantees, if guarantees established by the United States fail to meet
North Korea’s expectations to the full.”
8/15/03In his Liberation Day speech, Roh Moo-hyun says, “When the North
gives up its nuclear program, [South Korea] is willing to take the lead
in helping develop its economy.” He also announces his intention to
build up ROK military forces so they will be “fully equipped with
self-reliant national defense capabilities within the next 10 years.”
8/16/03Prosecutors in Germany confirm that they have charged three German
businessmen with violating export controls by trying to ship to North
Korea aluminum tubes that could be used to enrich uranium.
8/18/03KCNA says North Korea “cannot dismantle its nuclear deterrent
force” at the upcoming multilateral talks unless the United States
makes significant changes to its policy on North Korea, involving the
signing of a non-aggression pact, the establishment of formal
diplomatic relations and a guarantee that the United States would not
interfere in North Korea’s foreign trade.
8/18/03Six-nation military drills, including Japan, China, South and North
Koreas, are launched by the Russian navy near the border with North
Korea due to “growing tensions on the Korean Peninsula” and the
possibility that thousands of North Korean refugees could enter the
country. North Korea at first agrees to participate as an observer, but
8/18/03A South Korean navy patrol boat fires warning shots at a North
Korean fishing boat, which entered South Korean territorial waters.
8/18-29/03South Korean and U.S. forces conduct the annual Ulji Focus Lens
joint military exercises.
8/19/03North Korea ends its boycott of the World University Games in
Taegu, South Korea, after South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun
denounces as “inappropriate” and “regrettable” the burning of a North
Korean flag and a picture of Kim Jong-il by South Korean protesters.
A few days later, after a peaceful demonstration is attacked by North
Korean journalists attending the games, the North Korean delegation
threatens to withdraw.
8/20/03Kim Jong-il meets with a high-level Chinese military delegation, led
by Col. Gen. Xu Caihou, director of the general political department
of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army.
8/20/03Four finalized inter-Korean economic agreements, originally
negotiated in 2000, are formally exchanged at Panmunjom. They
cover protection of investment, elimination of double taxation,
settlement of commercial disputes, and clearance of payments.
8/21-23/03A sixth inter-Korean working-level meeting on connecting
trans-border railways and roads is held at Kaesong. The two sides
sign a 6-point agreement covering signals, telecommunications and
power systems, whereby the ROK is to design the systems and send
plans, materials and engineers to the DPRK.
8/26/03The South Korean navy fires warning shots after a North Korean navy
vessel crossed the NLL.
8/26-29/03In a nine-point joint statement released at the end of the sixth meeting
of the South-North Economic Cooperation Promotion Committee in
Seoul, the two Koreas agree to reconnect railways and roads across
the border by the end of the year and to open an office in Kaesong for
South Korean small and medium-sized businesses. Also, North Korea
allows South Korea to make on-site inspections of three North
Korean food distribution centers in September. The two Koreas
decide to hold the seventh economic meeting in Pyongyang in
8/27-29/03First Round of Six-Party Talks, held in Beijing, produce little in the
way of substantive progress, symbolized by the absence of any joint
statement or agreement to meet again. The United States and North
Korea met twice informally. After agreeing with the other five parties
on the general goal of a denuclearized Korean Peninsula, the North
Korean delegation reportedly insisted that the United States provide
it with diplomatic recognition, a security guarantee, and aid before it
would allow monitoring and inspection of its nuclear program. The
North Koreans also reportedly threatened to conduct a nuclear test
and continued to deny the existence of an HEU program. For its part,
the United States insisted that North Korea agree to a full, verifiable,
and irreversible dismantlement before any benefits be given to North
Korea. South Korea reportedly tabled a proposal under which North
Korea’s nuclear dismantlement, economic aid, and a security and
diplomatic recognition from the U.S. would take place in three
Build-Up to the February 2004 Six-Party Talks
8/30/03An unnamed North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman, quoted by
KCNA, says “we no longer have an interest, or expectations either,
for this kind of talks,” which “have made us believe that we have no
other choice but to strengthen a nuclear deterrent force as a self-
9/1/03Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, tells reporters that he considers
the United States the “main obstacle” to settling the nuclear issue
9/1/03Hyundai Asan resumes overland tours to Mt. Kumgang that had been
suspended soon after they began in February.
9/2/03KCNA carries a commentary saying, “we have not yet changed our
firm will to resolve the nuclear problem...through dialogue.”
9/3/03Eight of North Korea’s 31-member cabinet are replaced, including the
prime minister. Many of the new Cabinet officials are their 40s and
9/3-4/03The Proliferation Security Initiative core participants meet in Paris
and adopt a set of principles for intercepting illegal arms shipments
on the high seas and for sharing intelligence and other information to
halt weapons flows. A series of ten joint exercises is agreed to.
9/5/03A scheduled North-South Korean meeting to discuss construction of
a permanent family reunion center is canceled.
for a five-day visit, the first of a promised regular series of tourist
flights between the two capitals. The trip was organized by an
affiliate of the Unification Church. North Korea suspends the tours
in late October, citing “tour guide fatigue.”
9/17/03The eighth North-South military working talks, at Panmunjom, agree
to start using nearly completed trans-DMZ roads and to set up a hot
9/19/03The International Atomic Energy Agency urged the DPRK to
“completely dismantle” its nuclear arms efforts. It also called on the
DPRK to “accept comprehensive IAEA safeguards and cooperate
with the agency in their full and effective implementation.”
9/20-25/03The eighth round of family reunions. At Mt. Kumgang, over 550
elderly South Koreans are briefly reunited with 346 of their Northern
9/26/03A Seoul court finds six former high-ranking ROK officials guilty of
secretly transferring money to the DPRK ahead of the June 2000
summit. The court suspends the sentences because the crime was “an
act of state.”
9/29/03South Korea begins implementing procedures for verifying the origin
of goods imported from North Korea.
10/1/03On South Korean Armed Forces Day, South Korea holds a military
parade for the first time in five years, and President Roh Moo Hyun
announces an 8 percent increase in defense spending, saying it is
unacceptable that South Korea is not able to defend itself on its own.
asserts that North Korea “has successfully finished the reprocessing
of some 8,000 spent fuel rods,” adding that it “will consistently
maintain and increase its nuclear deterrent force” if the United States
doesn’t give up its hostile policy.
10/3/03KCNA reports that all the country’s nuclear facilities, including the
5-megawatt reactor at Yongbyon, are fully operational, adding that
“all the technological matters have been solved fully in the process of
making a switch-over in the use of plutonium.” The report also says
the reprocessing of the 8,000 irradiated fuel rods was completed in
10/6/03In the largest movement across the DMZ since the Korean War, about
1,100 South Koreans attend the opening of a gymnasium built by
Hyundai Group in Pyongyang.
10/6/03The ROK embassy in Beijing suspends consular activities due to the
large numbers of North Korean refugees that China has not allowed
to leave the compound. Days later, consular services are reopened,
only to be suspended again on October 31.
10/7/03In KCNA, a North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman says that
North Korea does not want Japan to take part in any future talks on
the nuclear issue due to Japan’s insistence on raising the abduction
10/11-12/03A third round of working-level economic and maritime cooperation
talks is held in the ROK border city of Munsan. North Korean
delegates cross the DMZ by bus. The two sides agree to establish a
joint commercial arbitration committee to handle business disputes.
Its decisions cannot be challenged by courts in either state.
10/13/03South Korea announces it will provide an additional 100,000 tonnes
of free fertilizer aid to North Korea.
10/14-17/03The 12th inter-Korean ministerial talks are held in Pyongyang. The
nuclear issue proves divisive, and the final joint statement agrees only
on the date of the next meeting.
10/16/03KCNA quotes a Foreign Ministry spokesman as saying “when the
time comes, the DPRK will take steps to physically display its nuclear
10/17/03During closed-door talks in Tokyo, President George Bush and
Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi reportedly reiterate the
need for a “peaceful resolution” to the North Korean nuclear standoff.
10/20/03On the sidelines of the APEC summit in Bangkok, President Bush
and South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun agree to provide a
multilateral security guarantee to North Korea in exchange for it
dismantling its nuclear weapons development.
10/20-21/03At the end of the APEC summit in Bangkok, Asian and Pacific
leaders call for increased measures to stop the spread of terrorism and
weapons of mass destruction, but a statement on North Korea is not
included in the final communique.
10/20/03A spokesman for the South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff says North
Korea has test-fired a surface-to-ship missile as part of annual
10/26/03Representative Curt Weldon announces that the White House has
denied him support and permission to use military aircraft to travel to
North Korea, where he was scheduled to lead a ten-person
10/27-28/03Seventh inter-Korean working-level contacts for reconnecting rail and
road links held in Kaesong.
10/27-11/5/03Hwang Jang Yop, the highest-ranking North Korean defector, meets
with the Bush Administration and Congressional officials in
Washington to testify on political and human rights situations in
North Korea. Until September 2003, Seoul had denied Hwang’s
requests to travel to the United States.
10/27/03In the first private sector trans-DMZ trucking trip, the ROK’s largest
logistics operator, Korea Express, takes 100,000 roof tiles to
10/29-31/03In Pyongyang, Chinese Parliamentary Chief Wu Bangguo and Kim
Jong-il announce North Korea has agreed “in principle to continue the
process of six-party talks” that would include Japan. A KCNA report
of the event adds that North Korea will take part in the future talks if
they are “based on the principle of simultaneous actions.”
10/30/03State Department spokesman Richard Boucher points out that
“simultaneity is not a word that we have used” and reiterates the U.S.
position that North Korea needs to dismantle its nuclear weapons
program before receiving proposed security assurances.
11/4/03Meeting in New York, the Executive Board of KEDO decides to
suspend the KEDO project for one year, rather than terminate the
program, as desired by the United States. “Our view is that we want
an end to the program,” said Adam Ereli, the State Department’s
deputy spokesman. KEDO’s decision is officially announced on
11/4-6/03North and South Korean Red Cross officials agree to build a
permanent family reunification center at Mt. Kumgang. Construction
is to begin in the spring of 2004, be completed in 2005, and be paid
for by South Korea.
point joint agreement covers rail connections, the Kaesong industrial
zone, shipping, and flood control.
11/6/03North Korean Ambassador to London Ri Yong Ho informs Reuters
that his country possesses a “nuclear deterrent.”
sol, tell the Washington Times in Geneva that Pyongyang is prepared
to give up its nuclear deterrent, stop testing, and exporting missiles
and allow international inspectors back into the country in exchange
for economic reparations and a written security pledge from
Washington. They also reiterate that Pyongyang is prepared to
consider the U.S. proposed written security guarantee positively if it
is linked to simultaneous diplomatic actions.
11/14/03The two Koreas hold their ninth working-level military talks at
Panmunjom, to discuss establishing guard posts in the DMZ along the
11/16-18/03In Seoul, Defense Minister Cho Young-kil and U.S. Defense
Secretary Donald Rumsfeld are unable to agree on a date for
relocating the U.S. 2nd Infantry Division, presently based near the
11/24/03The South Korean navy fires five warning shots after a North Korean
patrol boat crossed the NLL.
11/28/03Tenth military working-level talks at Panmunjom fail to agree on the
details of guard posts in the DMZ for cross-border railway and road
11/29/03Pyongyang’s Central Korean Agency says that if Japan insists on
discussing the abduction issue, it will be barred from participating in
12/2-5/03South Korea and North Korea hold an eighth round of talks on rail
communications, finalizing an agreement to start building the signal,
communication and electricity systems for their cross-border railway
in the second quarter of 2004.
12/8/03According to the New York Times, the US, South Korea and Japan
agree on the wording of a joint proposal that calls for a series of
“coordinated steps” offering security guarantees to North Korean as
it begins “a verifiable disassembly of its nuclear facilities”, but sets
no timetable for economic and energy aid. According to some reports,
China rejects the proposal because it doesn’t contain mention of
12/9/03KCNA reports a North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman saying
that North Korea will freeze its nuclear program in exchange for the
U.S. removing North Korea from the list of terror-sponsoring nations,
lift economic sanctions and provide energy assistance. At a press
conference with Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, President Bush
dismisses the North Korean proposal, insisting that North Korea must
end its nuclear weapons program entirely.
12/12/03The Bush Administration reportedly rejects a Chinese proposed
statement of principals to guide the next round of six-party talks, as
the proposed text does not call for “irreversible” dismantling of North
Korea’s programs or mention “verification.”
Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing says the U.S. should take a
“more flexible and practical attitude” to help restart negotiations,
according to China’s official Xinhua news agency.
12/12/03Former President Kim Dae Jung’s chief of staff, Park Jie-Won, is
sentenced to 12 years in jail and fined over $12 million for organizing
illegal money transfers to North Korea ahead of the 2000 inter-
Korean summit, and for accepting roughly $12 million in bribes from
12/15/03State Department spokesman Richard Boucher cites China as saying
that it is unlikely that six-way talks will start before January 2004.
including 1,400 combat soldiers, to assist coalition forces in Iraq.
12/17-20/03Inter-Korean working-level economic talks in Pyongyang fail to agree
on procedures for jurisdiction over South Koreans who visit or work
in projects in the North, such as Mt. Kumgang and Kaesong.
12/19/03Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda announces in a statement that
Japan has decided to adopt Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) systems
to protect itself from the threat of North Korean missile attacks. The
Japanese systems will be deployed between 2007 and 2011.
12/20/03Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, President Bush, and British Prime
Minister Tony Blair announce an agreement by which Libya will
abandon all activities to develop weapons of mass destruction.
of the two new cross-border road and rail corridors inside the DMZ.
12/24/03The U.S. State Department announces the U.S. will send 60,000 tons
of food aid to North Korea.
12/27/03Upon returning from a trip to Pyongyang, Chinese Vice Foreign
Minister Wang Yi says that North Korea has agreed to take part in a
new round of six-way talks early 2004.
1/5/04At talks in Moscow, China and Russia issue a joint call for a new
round of six-nation talks on North Korea’s nuclear program to be held
1/6-10/03Two unofficial U.S. delegations visit Yongbyon together. One
delegation includes Siegfried S. Hecker, the former director of the
Los Alamos National Lab, and Charles Pritchard, former U.S. chief
negotiator with North Korea. Hecker and Pritchard later testify to
Congress that the 8,000 fuel rods that had been stored under the
Agreed Framework were no longer in their storage pond, and that the
50 megawatt atomic reactor that had been under construction until the
Agreed Framework was in a decrepit state. The delegations are
shown plutonium, but are unable to confirm whether it came from the
recently restarted 5 MW reactor or from reprocessing of any of the
8,000 fuel rods. Despite the North Koreans’ claim that the
delegations were shown evidence of a “nuclear deterrent,” delegation
members say they are not shown evidence of an actual nuclear
weapon or weapon-making capabilities. North Korean vice foreign
minister reportedly denies denying that North Korea has an HEU
program, but says it is willing to open “technical talks” on the matter.
1/6/04In a statement released by the Korean Central News Agency, North
Korea repeats its freeze offer, emphasizing that it includes nuclear
energy production, and adds a pledge not to test. Responding to a
question later in the day, Secretary of State Colin Powell says he is
“encouraged” by the North Korean statement. Powell does not repeat
this assessment in a January 8 press conference.
1/8/04Joseph DeTrani, the new U.S. special envoy for North Korea, meets
Pak Gil Son, the North Korean ambassador to the United Nations, in
“a brief introductory” meeting in New York and emphasizes the
importance of the six-party framework.
meets with Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage and other
officials to discuss the possibilities for a second round of six-way
talks on the North Korean nuclear crisis.
1/13-17/04Four Japanese Foreign Ministry officials travel to Pyongyang to
discuss the issue of Japanese abduction victims with North Korean
1/15-17/04DPRK and ROK Red Cross organizations meet at Mt. Kumgang to
discuss further the construction of a family reunion center, but fail to
1/17/04U.S. and ROK defense agree on relocating U.S. troops north of Seoul
to Pyongtaek and the return of Yongsan Army Base to South Korea
by the end of 2007.
1/18/04South Korea says it will help the North preserve relics of the Koguryo
kingdom (37BC-668AD), which occupied northern Korea and part of
northeast China. A U.N. body is considering Koguryo sites in the
DPRK and China for world heritage site status, amid a drive by China
to claim it as part of Chinese rather than Korean history.
1/21-22/04TCOG meeting in Washington reaches agreement on pressing North
Korea to agree to nuclear inspections at the six-party talks.
1/27-29/04Working-level inter-Korean economic talks in Kaesong on settlement
and clearance systems result in an agreement over immigration
procedures for South Koreans visiting Kaesong and Mt. Kumgang.
The two sides agree Seoul will have jurisdiction over South Korean
offenders in these zones.
1/27/04Seoul-based Inter-Korea Economic Association says it is completing
an information technology complex in Pyongyang, to open in March.
1/29/04Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage travels to Beijing to
discuss the North Korean nuclear crisis and tells reporters that the
United States is “extraordinarily grateful” to China for its efforts to
organize six-nation talks.
1/29/04Japan’s House of Representatives passes an amendment to the foreign
exchange law allowing the country to impose unilateral economic
sanctions on North Korea. The House of Councillors passes the bill
on February 9. North Korea criticizes the move and demands that
Japan be excluded from the next round of six-party talks.
2/2-3/04In Tokyo, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage meets with
family members of abductees and says Washington is willing to raise
the issue of abductions of Japanese at the next multilateral talks with
2/3/04North Korea announces that it will attend a new round of six-party
talks in Beijing on February 25.
2/3-6/04At the 13th Inter-Korean cabinet level talks in Seoul, South and
North Korea agree in a six-point joint statement to work together to
ensure fruitful six-way talks on the nuclear crisis, to resume military
talks, and to hold another round of cabinet-level talks in Pyongyang
on May 4-7. On the nuclear issue, North Korea reportedly repeated
its offer of a freeze for economic aid and other concessions.
2/4/04Abdul Qadeer Khan, the founder of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons
program, admits on national television that he has shared Pakistani
nuclear technology with other countries, reportedly including uranium
enrichment equipment to North Korea.
2/5/04South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon says South Korea is
“...willing to guarantee North Korea’s security and provide energy
and other economic assistance,” if Pygonyang agrees to a freeze that
“is a short stage leading towards the elimination of the nuclear
programs and is accompanied by verification.”
2/11/04ROK Ambassador to the U.S., Han Sung-joo says the DPRK must
discuss its uranium enrichment nuclear program at the six-party talks.
2/11/04In a speech at the National Defense University, President Bush calls
on other regimes to follow the example of Libya, in “abandoning the
pursuit of illegal weapons,” saying that “continuing to seek those
weapons will not bring security or international prestige, but only
political isolation, economic hardship and other unwelcome
2/13/04South Korea’s National Assembly approves a plan to send 3,000
troops, including 1,400 combat troops and 1,600 military engineers
and medics, to Iraq in addition to the 465 military medics and
engineers already there.
2/17/04In Tokyo, South Korean Deputy Foreign Minister Lee Soo Hyuck
reportedly says that “China is not confident whether or not North
Korea has this [uranium enrichment] program.”
2/17/04In Beijing to meet Chinese officials, Under Secretary of State John
Bolton reportedly says the U.S. negotiating position in the coming
six-way talks will be substantially the same as at the first round of
negotiations in August, saying the U.S. will demand North Korea’s
nuclear disarmament before any inducements are offered.
2/19/04In an interview, Secretary of State Colin Powell says, “I would like
to see working groups created” at the next round of six-party talks.
2/22/04TCOG meeting in Seoul agrees that the HEU program must be
discussed at the six-party talks. South Korea reportedly presents a
three-stage plan for resolving the nuclear issue.
2/23/04ROK President Roh Moo-hyun says in an interview, “We need to
give something to make further progress and help each other save
face....[North Korea] told us they will abandon their nuclear weapons
if we accept some of their demands. At issue is to what extent we will
be meeting their demands.”
2/24/04Tamiko Uomoto, the wife of one of nine Japanese Red Army radicals
who have lived as fugitives in North Korea after hijacking a Japan
Airlines plane in 1970, is arrested on her return to Japan.
2/25-28/04Second round of six-party talks held in Beijing end with an
agreement to meet again and to set up working-level meetings. The
parties fail to agree upon a joint statement, instead settling on a
“chairman’s report” stating that all participants agreed on the goal of
denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula. Some reports indicate all
parties except North Korea agree on U.S. position of CVID. During
bilateral talks with North Korea, Assistant Secretary of State James
Kelly reiterates Washington’s offer of security assurances in return
for CVID. South Korea offers, in a three-phase plan, to give energy
assistance to North Korea in exchange for a verifiable freeze of all of
its nuclear programs as a first step to completely dismantling them.
ROK, PRC, and Russia reportedly are much more welcoming of
North Korea’s freeze proposal, particularly China than the U.S. and
Japan. China and Russia reportedly support North Korea’s exclusion
of its nuclear energy programs from any hypothetical denuclearization
pledge. After the talks conclude, North Korea’s chief delegate to the
Beijing conference denies that North Korea has “facilities, scientists
or technologies related” to highly enriched uranium (HEU) or has had
relations with Pakistan with regard to HEU.
Build-Up to the June 2004 Six-Party Talks
2/25-26/04At road and rail talks in Kaesong, the two Koreas agree on
maintenance issues and on the need to build an asphalt plant.
2/25-26/04At the fourth inter-Korean working level meeting on shipping held in
Kaesong, the two Koreas provisionally agree that North Korean ships
will be allowed to sail across the southern tip of Cheju Island for their
east-west navigation around the Korean peninsula.
State Department says it is “highly likely” that North Korea is
involved in state-sponsored drugs trafficking.
3/2-5/04In a seven-point statement issued after the 8th inter-Korean Economic
Cooperation Promotion Committee meeting in Seoul, South and
North Korea agree to allow companies to start operating in Kaesong
by the end of 2004, to test-run trains on two railway sections, to set
up an office for consultation on inter-Korean economic cooperation
programs into operation, and to realize exchange visits by South and
North Korean economic inspection teams as soon as possible.
3/3/04Saying “we must calmly consider whether showing off a glittering
sword taken out from its sheath is actually effective, Prime Minister
Koizumi tells a questioner in a Diet session that sanctions are not on
the immediate horizon.
3/9/04South Korea says the North has agreed to authenticate the origin of
goods exported to the South, which are duty-free.
3/12/04President Roh Moo-Hyun is impeached by the National Assembly
for breaking ROK election law and other alleged offenses. Prime
Minister Goh Kun takes over as interim president.
3/14/04The New York Times reports Pakistan’s Khan Research Laboratories
provided North Korea with all necessary equipment to enrich uranium
for nuclear weapons.
3/15/04South Korea cancels the 3rd Working-level Consultative Meeting on
Clearing Settlement, scheduled to be held in Paju, South Korea after
North Korea asked for it to be moved to Kaesong, saying that Roh’s
impeachment has made the situation too “unstable” to hold the talks.
The talks are held April 20-22.
3/17/04In Washington, IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei, President Bush and
National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice meet, discuss possible
modalities for return of inspectors to North Korea.
3/19/04Due to the flareup of violence in Iraq, the ROK halts plans to deploy
forces to Kirkuk and begins investigating alternative sites.
3/22/04In protest of the annual “Foal Eagle” and “RSOI” joint military
exercises between the U.S. and South Korea, North Korea postpones
scheduled working-level talks on the rebuilding of cross-border
railways and anti-flood measures.
3/23-25/04Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing travels to Pyongyang and
meets with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il.
Kumgang is suspended briefly after a South Korean official makes a
joke about Kim Jong-il.
4/1-2/04Former Japanese Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Secretary General
Taku Yamasaki and Representative Katsuei Hirasawa hold nine hours
of talks in Dalian, China, with North Korean government officials.
4/8-10/04At the third meeting of the working-level council for the prevention
of flood damage of the Imjin River, held in Kaesong, South and North
Korea agree to carry out field surveys of the river in late April or early
4/8-10/04At the fourth meeting of the working-level council for the connection
of railroads and roads, in Kaesong, ROK and DPRK officials sign a
including setting train schedules and setting up a joint committee for
inter-Korean train operation to handle all operational issues, including
accidents, fares and facility improvement.
4/9-16/04Vice President Dick Cheney travels to Japan, South Korea, and
China, where he tells Chinese leaders that “time is not on our side”
with regard to the North Korean nuclear issue.
4/13/04Hyundai Asan, Korea Land Corp., and North Korea sign a $16
million land-leasing agreement for Kaesong, under which South2
Korean firms would pay 150,000 won per pyeong (3.3 m.) to open
shop in the industrial park.
4/13/04The New York Times reports that A.Q. Khan has told his Pakistani
interrogators that during a trip to North Korea in 1999 he was taken
to a secret underground nuclear plant and shown what he described
as three nuclear devices.
4/15/04Parliamentary elections in South Korea give a narrow majority to
center-left Uri Party, which backs impeached President Roh.
4/15/04The U.N. Human Rights Commission in Geneva passes an
EU-sponsored resolution on DPRK human rights. South Korea and
4/19-21/04Kim Jong-il travels to Beijing for a meeting with senior Chinese
officials, his first such trip since 2001. KCNA reports that Kim
agrees North Korea will play an “active” part in future six-party talks
and will be “patient and flexible.” A Chinese Foreign Ministry
spokesman notes that “differences” emerged between the two
4/20-22/04The third working-level meeting for settling inter-Korean debts held
in Paju, South Korea.
4/20/04Kaesong organizers say that if the industrial park’s demand for
electricity exceeds the local (DPRK) supply, they will deliver
electricity directly from the ROK, rather than build a new plant inside
about 12 miles from the DPRK-PRC, killing over 150 and injuring
over 1,000. The blast took place after Kim Jong-il’s private train
passed through the station on his way home from China, though how
long after is subject to dispute. Pyongyang does not allow victims to
be transported to China, and at first rejects Seoul’s offer to send an
overland aid convoy, delaying ROK aid several days. On April 30,
Pyongyang allows an ROK cargo plane to fly to the DPRK with 70
tons of emergency aid, the first ever inter-Korean direct flight for
humanitarian purposes. On May 7, the DPRK permits overland aid
to arrive from the ROK, primarily construction equipment.
4/23/04The South Korean Unification Ministry officially approves the pilot
site for Kaesong, to consist of 10-15 firms.
4/29/04North Korea agrees to attend working level talks beginning on May
12. A Foreign Ministry official, quoted by KCNA, says that North
Korea must receive a “reward for freez[ing]” its nuclear program.
5/4-7/04At the 14th inter-Korean ministerial talks, in Pyongyang, the two sides
agree to the ROK’s request to hold a meeting of top generals, and to
meet again August 3-6.
5/4-5/11/04A delegation of New York-based Korean-American businessmen visit
North Korea, including Kaesong.
5/12/04In an interview with USA Today, Han Song Ryol, North Korea’s
deputy representative to the United Nations said that Pyongyang
would retain its nuclear deterrent until “all the countries with troops
on the Korean peninsula” sign a peace treaty.
5/14/04South Korea’s constitutional court dismisses the impeachment
case against Roh Moo-hyun, restoring him to the presidency.
to Iraq 3,600 troops from the 2 Infantry Division in South Korea.
5/22/04Koizumi-Kim Jong-il 90-minute summit in Pyongyang. Koizumi
returns to Japan with five children of the abductees returned to Japan
in October 2002, and a pledge from Kim to reinvestigate the fate of
other individuals Japanese government alleges were abducted. The
two children and American husband (Charles Jenkins) of Hitomi
Soga choose not to leave North Korea, but warm to the idea of
meeting their mother in a third country. Koizumi promises 250,000
MT of food aid and $10 million of medical supplies, and says Japan
will not initiate economic sanctions “as long as [both countries]
comply with the Japan-DPRK Pyongyang declaration.” Koizumi
says Chairman Kim stated that the freezing of nuclear programs
would be a first step towards the denuclearization of the Korean
Peninsula and would be subject to verification. He reportedly
reconfirms the missile launch test moratorium and reiterates his desire
for direct talks with the U.S.
5/23/04The New York Times reports that IAEA inspectors have discovered
evidence North Korea sold nearly two tons of uranium hexafloride,
a key element necessary to make an atomic bomb, in 2001 to Libya.
5/24/04Red Cross officials from North and South Korea meet at Mount
Kumgang to discuss family reunion issues.
5/26/04At Mt. Kumgang, DPRK and the ROK hold their first
general-level military talks since the 1950s, discussing the
establishment of a communications infrastructure to forestall naval
clashes. They agree to meet again on June 6. Previously, only
colonel-level talks had been held between the militaries of the two
countries. In the past, North Korea insisted on dealing directly with
the United States military.
6/3-6/04At the 9th Inter-Korean Economic Cooperation Promotion Committee
meeting, held in Pyongyang, the two Koreas agree to open
cross-border roads and make test runs on two railways across their
heavily fortified frontier in coming months no later than October, and
to set up by the end of June a joint agency to run an industrial park
being built in Kaesong near the border and appoint a ROK to oversee
it. The ROK announces it will provide 400,000-tons in rice to the
star generals, North and South Korea agree on measures to ease
military tensions along their border, including adopting a standard
radio frequency and signaling system for their navies, exchanging
data on illegal fishing, setting up a hotline to improve
communication, and halting propaganda along their border by
6/4/04A convoy of 15 ROK dump trucks carrying North Korean sand to a
South Korean construction company crosses the DMZ, the first
commercial shipment to cross the DMZ.
6/7/04South Korean officials announce that The United States plans to
withdraw a third of its 37,000 troops stationed in South Korea before
the end of 2005.
6/8/04Zhou Wenzhong, China’s deputy foreign minister, says in an
interview with the New York Times that “We know nothing about
[North Korea’s suspected] uranium program,” Mr. Zhou said. “We
don’t know whether it exists. So far the U.S. has not presented
convincing evidence of this program....it should really be the U.S. that
takes the initiative” in the six-party talks.
6/8/04At the G-8 Summit on Sea Island, Georgia, Koizumi reportedly tells
Bush that Kim Jong-il may be serious about making a deal and
pushed for the U.S. to submit a credible proposal at the forthcoming
6/14/04North and South Korean naval vessels communicated for the first
time using a common radio frequency, flags and light signals along
a disputed sea boundary in the Yellow Sea.
6/15/04President Roh, in a speech marking the fourth anniversary of the
North-South Korean summit, says, “when the nuclear problem is
settled, the two Koreas will be able to work together even more
closely....when [that] time comes, we will make a positive
contribution to expanding the North’s social infrastructure, which is
instrumental to any drastic economic improvement, as well as to
enhancing its industrial production capabilities.”
6/15/04North and South Korea end their loudspeaker propaganda broadcasts
along the DMZ.
6/23-26/04At the 3rd Round of Six-Party Talks in Beijing, the U.S. and North
Korea submit proposals, and reportedly all the parties agree that
denuclearization could be achieved through a step-by-step process,
beginning with a verifiable nuclear freeze. The U.S. proposes a three-
month freeze of all of Pyongyang’s nuclear programs, followed by
their complete dismantlement, in exchange for security assurances as
well as energy assistance that would be provided by China, South
Korea, and Japan. North Korea reportedly repeats its “reward for
freeze” proposal promising to freeze its nuclear facilities if the U.S.
takes “corresponding measures,” including removing Pyongyang from
its list of terrorist-sponsoring countries, lifting economic sanctions,
and participating in the initial provision of energy assistance. North
Korea continues to deny the existence of an HEU program.
Attempts to Convene a 4th Round of the Six-Party Talks
6/30-7/2/04The 10th inter-Korean working-level talks on road and rail links are
held at Mt. Kumgang. A 5-point agreement is signed covering details
of construction and operation.
7/1/04At the 11th ASEAN Regional Forum in Jakarta, the DPRK Foreign
Minister meets with Secretary of State Powell and issues a joint
statement with ROK Foreign Minister.
7/1/04Kyodo News reports that the DPRK ambassador to the PRC says that
the DPRK’s freeze proposal covers only the plutonium that was
reprocessed after January 2003.
7/5/04In a statement issued by the state news agency, North Korea said it
had “no objection” to a request by the Red Army hijackers to return
7/5/04At working-level military talks in Kaesong, the two sides agree to
maintain open wireless communications to prevent accidental clashes
in the West Sea, and to start the second phase of removing
propaganda at the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ).
7/7-7/9/04National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice visits Tokyo, Seoul, and
7/8/04The 10th anniversary of the death of Kim Il-sung. Seoul prohibits a
group of NGOs from traveling to the North to mark the occasion,
prompting Pyongyang to cancel official North-South dialogues.
7/13-15/04Scheduled fifth round of inter-Korean maritime cooperation
working-level talks are cancelled by North Korea.
7/19/04Planned North-South working level military talks are not held after
North Korea fails to respond to phone calls to arrange logistics.
7/21/04U.S. House of Representatives approves H.R. 4011, the North Korea
Human Rights Act.
7/23/04The U.S. and ROK finalize agreements to relocate all of the roughly
8,000 U.S. Forces from the Seoul Metropolitan Area to the Pyongtaek
area, approximately 50 miles south of Seoul, by the end of 2008.
7/24/04North Korea denounces the U.S. nuclear proposal as “nothing but a
7/27-28/04The ROK airlifts over 450 North Korean defectors from Vietnam to
Seoul. Decrying the action as an “abduction,”Pyongyang halts most
forms of inter-Korean dialogue.
8/3-6/04Scheduled 15th inter-Korean ministerial cabinet level talks are
postponed by North Korea, which cites South Korea’s mass
acceptance of over North Korean refugees.
8/10/04At a closed-door session of an international seminar on the North
Korean nuclear issue hosted by the National Committee on American
Foreign Policy in New York, Ri Gun, deputy director-general of
American affairs at the DPRK’s Foreign Ministry; meets with Joseph
DeTrani, U.S. special envoy to the DPRK, State Department Policy
Planning Director Mitchell Reiss, and Han Seung-joo, ROK
ambassador to Washington.
8/11-12/04Japan-DPRK abduction talks in Beijing reportedly yield little
8/13/04At the opening ceremony for the Athens Olympics, the ROK and
DPRK Olympic march together under the same flag, just as they did
in Sydney in 2000.
8/23/04KCNA quotes a DPRK Foreign Ministry spokesman as saying “The
meeting of the working group for the six-party talks cannot be opened
because the U.S. has become more undisguised in pursuing its hostile
policy.” The spokesman calls President Bush an “imbecile” and “a
tyrant that puts Hitler into the shade.”
8/31-9/3/04Scheduled 10th inter-Korean economic talks are postponed by North
9/2/04South Korea admits scientists enriched a tiny amount of uranium in
Seoul claims this was done without the government’s knowledge or
authorization, so was not reported at the time to the IAEA.
9/2/04Conducting a case-by-case review of possible U.S.-made dual-use
technology that South Korean companies may bring into the Kaesong
Industrial Zone, ROK and U.S. officials clear 11 of 15 approved ROK
companies to begin operating in Kaesong.
9/12/04Sources in Seoul and Beijing report seeing a huge mushroom cloud
in northern North Korea on September 9, the anniversary of the
founding of the DPRK. President Bush reportedly is briefed that the
cloud may have resulted from a nuclear test. North Korea claims the
cloud resulted from a detonation associated with a hydroelectric dam,
but when it transports foreign ambassadors to the area for a visual
inspection, it brings them to a site 60 miles away from where the
cloud was reported. South Korean authorities later say the episode
may have been an unusual cloud formation.
9/9/04South Korean scientists admit they separated a tiny amount of
bomb-grade plutonium in 1982 without notifying the IAEA.
9/12/04In an interviews with the New York Times, Democratic Presidential
nominee Senator John Kerry accuses the Bush administration of
letting “a nuclear nightmare” develop by refusing to deal with North
Korea when it first came to office.
9/12/04Kim Jong-il meets in Pyongyang with a senior communist party
delegation from the PRC that reportedly informs the DPRK
leadership that China would continue to provide development
assistance to North Korea.
9/15/04ROK officials reportedly say that removal of propaganda installations
along the DMZ has stalled.
9/21/04A ceremony to mark the completion of an ROK office in the Kaesong
Industrial Zone is called off after the North bars 11 lawmakers of the
opposition GNP from attending. After Pyongyang later agrees to
allow the 11 to attend, the event is rescheduled for October 21.
9/23/04Amid reports that U.S. and Japanese intelligence indicates North
Korea may be preparing to test-launch an intermediate ballistic
missile, ROK Foreign Minister Ban, meeting Secretary of State
Powell in New York, warns the DPRK that any such launch would
negatively affect inter-Korean ties, including Kaesong.
9/23/04North Korea’s state-run Rodong Sinmun newspaper declares “if the
United States ignites a nuclear war, the U.S. military base in Japan
would serve as a detonating fuse to turn Japan into a nuclear sea of
9/24/04South Korea announces that the Export-Import Bank of Korea will
insure Southern investors in the North for between 70%-90% of any
losses in case of events such as broken agreements, blocked
remittances, confiscation of assets, or war.
9/24/04The ROK government confirms that 107 metric tons of sodium
cyanide, a key ingredient in the manufacture of nerve gas, were sent
illegally to North Korea via China in 2003.
9/25-9/26/04Japan and North Korea hold a second round of working-level
consultations in Beijing on the abduction issue, with no progress
North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choe Su Hon says “the ever
intensifying U.S. hostile policy” and the lack of clarity about “the
secret nuclear related experiments in South Korea...makes us unable
to participate in the talks aimed at discussing the nuclear weapon
program.” Later, at a news conference, Choe says “We have already
made clear that we have already reprocessed 8,000 wasted fuel rods
and transformed them into arms,” he said.
9/30/04In their first debate of the presidential campaign, President Bush and
Democratic presidential nominee Kerry clash over the U.S.’ North
10/5/04KCNA quotes a DPRK Foreign Ministry spokesman as saying the
Senate’s passage of the Human Rights Act has deprived the DPRK of
“any justification” for participating in the six-party talks, and reveals
the U.S.’ “real intention” is to “topple” the North Korean
government. Later, KCNA calls the act “a declaration of war.”
10/6/04Washington and Seoul announce that Washington’s plans to reduce
sharply its troops in South Korea would be delayed to 2008, instead
of the end of 2005.
10/7/04Inter-Korean working-level military talks on rail and load links break
the ROK state-run main contractor for the Kaesong Industrial Zone.
In attendance are 63 members of the ROK National Assembly.
10/22/04A North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman tells KCNA that in
order for Pyongyang to return to the six-party talks, the U.S. must
drop its hostile policy, join an economic aid program for the North,
and agree to discuss “South Korea’s nuclear problem.”
Powell urges North Korea to rejoin the six-party talks and rejects
demands from North Korea that the U.S. offer economic inducements
before North Korea has agreed to dismantle its nuclear program.
Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing reportedly asks the U.S. to
“adopt a flexible and practical attitude.” In Seoul, ROK Foreign
Minister Ban Ki-moon says he told Powell that all countries involved
develop a “more creative and realistic” offer to encourage the North
to return to the negotiating table.
10/26/04Proliferation Security Initiative exercise is held off the coast of Japan
involving navy and coast guard vessels from 10 countries, including
Japan, France, and Australia. Pyongyang condemns the exercise as an
“ultimate war action.”
11/1/04In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Han Song Ryol, North
Korea’s ambassador in charge of U.S. affairs, says that “Pyongyang
won’t participate in six-party talks unless it sees real changes” in U.S.
policy, including annulling the U.S. North Korea Human Rights Act
and completely lifting economic sanctions. Han also says Senator
John Kerry’s proposal to negotiate bilaterally with North Korea is “as
hostile as Bush’s DPRK policy.”
11/1/04South Korean patrol boats fire warning shots to repel three North
Korean patrol boats that reportedly crossed the NLL in two separate
11/12/04In a speech before the Los Angeles World Affairs Council, President
Roh Moo-hyun reportedly says that taking a hard line over North
Korea’s nuclear weapons program could have “grave” consequences
and that “there is no other way than dialogue.”
11/20-21/04At the APEC summit in Santiago, Chile, President Bush urges
members to draw North Korea back into six-nation negotiations and
says he is convinced “that the will is strong, that the effort is united
and the message is clear to Mr. Kim Jong-il: Get rid of your nuclear
11/26/04KEDO’s Executive Board members decide to extend for another year
(until December 1, 2005) a freeze on constructing two light-water
nuclear reactors in North Korea.
ROK President Roh Moo-hyun, and Japanese Prime Minister
Junichiro Koizumi agree to “promote close consultations and
cooperation for the peaceful denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula
through the Six-Party Talks.”
12/1/04Speaking to a group of South Koreans living in England, President
Roh says that the ROK has grown powerful enough that no country
can impose a solution that would be unacceptable to South Korea.
12/1/04The final section of an inter-Korean road along the east coast border
is opened to traffic.
12/2-4/04Working-level inter-Korean talks at Mt. Kumgang to discuss
technical issues for building a permanent meeting place for separated
12/3/04The two Koreas announce an agreement for South Korean electric
power company KEPCO to supply electricity to the Kaesong
12/3/04In an interview with the New York Times, IAEA Director General
Mohamed ElBaradei says that he is “sure” that North Korea has
reprocessed all the 8,000 rods of spent plutonium that the IAEA had
watched over until December 2002.
12/6/04Speaking to a group of ethnic Koreans in Paris, President Roh is
quoted as saying, “As long as the regime itself is questioned due to
the North Korean nuclear issue, those countries that do not want it to
collapse, like China and South Korea, and those countries and
individuals that think regime change is necessary will not be able to
12/8/04Japanese officials announce that the results of DNA tests on a box of
bones and ashes that North Korea had said contained the remains of
Megumi Yokota, a Japanese woman kidnapped by North Korea,
proved that the remains belong to a number of other people. “‘It
would be difficult under such circumstances to provide further
assistance to North Korea,” says chief cabinet secretary, Hiroyuki
12/8/04Convicted American army deserter Charles Jenkins leaves the United
States Army base at Camp Zama outside Tokyo, where he served a
one-month prison term and was given a dishonorable discharge.
12/10/04An eight-member team from the ROK and DPRK begin a joint survey
of Mt. Kumgang for the construction of a permanent meeting place
for separated family members.
12/12/04Fueled by public anger, Acting Secretary General of the LDP Shinzo
Abe, along with other politicians, urge the Japanese government to
impose sanctions on North Korea.
12/13/04In an interview Assistant Secretary of State Kelly says that the current
armistice agreement on the Korean peninsula can be replaced with a
multi-party peace treaty if the North agrees to dismantle all of its
12/15/04KCNA quotes a Foreign Ministry spokesman as warning that any
move by Japan to impose economic sanctions on Pyongyang would
be regarded as a “declaration of war” and would cause North Korea
to reconsider taking part in the six-party talks.
12/15/04On December 15, a ceremony is held at the Kaesong Industrial
Complex in North Korea to mark the start of production of an initial
line of goods. On the same day, 1,000 sets of pots delivered from the
Livingart’s Kaesong factory to the Lotte Department Store in
Sodong-dong, Seoul, sold out in only seven hours.
12/17/04In a summit in Kagoshima, Japan, President Roh urges Prime
Minister Koizumi not to impose sanctions on North Korea. Koizumi
states that the decision will be based on North Korea’s response to
Tokyo’s complaint about Yokota’s false remains.
12/23/04South Korea’s Unification Ministry announced it will decrease the
flat financial subsidies for North Korean defectors by a third but plans
to introduce an incentive system to encourage them to undertake job
training and obtain jobs.
CVID - complete, verifiable, and irreversible dismantlement (of North Korea’s
DMZ - demilitarized zone dividing North and South Korea
DPRK - Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
EU - European Union
GNP - Grand National Party, South Korea’s largest opposition party
HEU - highly enriched uranium
IAEA - International Atomic Energy Agency
KCNA - Korea Central News Agency (North Korea’s official news agency)
KEDO - Korea Peninsula Energy Development Organization
NGO - non-governmental organization
NLL - Northern Limit Line
NPT - Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty
PRC - People’s Republic of China
PSI - Proliferation Security Initiative
ROK - Republic of Korea
TCOG - Trilateral Coordination and Oversight Group (United States, Japan, and
Figure 1. Map of the Korean Peninsula