RL32743 -- North Korea: A Chronology of Events, October 2002-December 2004

January 24, 2005



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.

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. sanctions(3), 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, 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 Treaty (NPT).

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 patron Russia.

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 2004, despite requests from Chinese, Japanese, and South Korean leaders. 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 program: North Korean envoys refused to acknowledge its existence, while the United States insisted that its verified dismantlement be a prerequisite for further progress.

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 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 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 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 passed H.Con.Res. 213 (107th 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.

Prospects for Permanent Security Mechanism in Northeast Asia

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. Policy

CRS Report RL32493(pdf), The North Korean Economy: Background and Policy Analysis

CRS Report RS21391, North Korea's Nuclear Weapons: How Soon an Arsenal?

CRS Report RL31900, Weapons of Mass Destruction: Trade Between North Korea and Pakistan

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

3/9/00 In 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 North-South dialogue.
6/13-15/00 The 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 peninsular stability.
6/19/00 The Clinton Administration eases economic sanctions imposed on North Korea since its invasion of South Korea in 1950.
10/9-12/00 Vice Marshal Jo Myong Rok, the DPRK's second-in-command, travels to Washington DC, the first visit to the U.S. by a high-level DPRK official.
10/23/00 U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright travels to the DPRK to pursue talks on North Korea's missile program.
12/13/01 Vice President Al Gore concedes the 2000 presidential election to Texas Governor George W. Bush, five weeks after the presidential election was held.
3/6/01 Secretary 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.
3/7/01 The 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 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.
6/6/01 The 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 missile exports.
6/29/01 Over 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.
9/11/01 Al 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 destruction.
10/16/01 In an interview with Asian media outlets prior to a trip to Shanghai, 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."
1/29/02 In 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 destruction."
2/19-20/02 During a trip to the DMZ as part of a tour of East Asia, President Bush says "We have no intention of invading North Korea."
6/13/02 Two 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.
6/27/02 Meeting 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.
6/29/02 A 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 2002 North 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.
9/17/02 At 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

10/3-5/02 At 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 weapons.
10/12-15/02 In 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.
10/15/02 Five Japanese nationals kidnapped by North Korea return to Japan for the first time in 24 years. Their relatives are not allowed to leave North Korea.
10/16/02 The Bush Administration reveals that in bilateral talks earlier in the month, North Korean Deputy Foreign Minister Kang Suk Joo admitted that North Korea has a HEU program.
10/16/02 President 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.
10/18-21/02 Traveling 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.
10/20-23/02 At 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.
10/20/02 Speaking 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.
10/21/02 During 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."
10/21/02 After a meeting with the NATO secretary general, Lord Robertson, 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.
10/22/02 In 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 program.
10/25/02 A 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 development.
10/25/02 At a summit with President Bush at Crawford ranch, Chinese President Jiang Zemin says "the Korean peninsula ought to be nuclear weapons-free."
10/26/02 After 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.
10/26/02 A 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.
10/29-30/02 At working-level talks at the Japanese Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, 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.
10/31/02 Red 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.
10/31-11/2/02 At Inter-Korean working-level talks held in Pyongyang, North and South Koreas focus on details of the construction of the industrial complex in Kaesong.
11/2-5/02 After 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.
11/6/02 A KEDO shipment of 42,500 tonnes of heavy fuel oil leaves Singapore for North Korea.
11/8-9/02 At the end of the TCOG meeting held in Tokyo, the United States, 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.
11/9/02 At 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 Industrial Complex.
11/11/02 Japanese 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.
11/13/02 In 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.
11/14/02 The KEDO executive board (comprised of the U.S., ROK, Japan, and EU) decides to suspend fuel oil supplies to North Korea from December 2002.
11/21/02 For 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 officially recognized.
11/27/02 Chinese 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.
11/28/02 North 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 procedures.
11/29/02 The 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.
12/2/02 In 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."
12/3/02 North 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.
12/7-9/02 Hundreds 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.
12/6-8/02 In 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.
12/10/02 Two 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 their cargo.
12/11/02 The 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.
12/12/02 The 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.
12/15-17/02 At 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.
12/19/02 Roh Moo-hyun elected president of South Korea. 
12/21/02 IAEA 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.
12/23/02 Hyundai Asan conducts a survey for an overland route to Mt. Kumgang through the demilitarized zone (DMZ).
12/23/02 A 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 Yongbyon.
12/23/02 At 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.
12/24/02 North Korea reportedly begins repairing its Yongbyon facilities.
12/26/02 The IAEA confirms that North Korea has begun removing spent plutonium fuel rods from their storage pond at Yongbyon.
12/25-28/02 At a second maritime working level meeting held in Pyongyang, South and North Koreas agree to open the first inter-Korean sea route.
12/27/02 North Korea says it is expelling IAEA inspectors from Yongbyon. They depart North Korea four days later. North Korea also says it plans to reopen its plutonium reprocessing plant.
12/30/02 A 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

1/6/03 In 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.
1/9/03 With 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 dialogue."
1/10/03 North Korea announces it is withdrawing from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty because it is "most seriously threatened" by the United States.
1/10/03 President 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."
1/11/03 DPRK ambassador to China, Choe Jin Su, says Pyongyang could end the 1999 ballistic missile test moratorium.
1/12/03 North 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."
1/13/03 After 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."
1/14/03  President Bush says he might consider reviving a "bold initiative" to help North Korea with food and energy if it dismantles its nuclear weapons programs.
1/17/03 Deputy 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 official statement."
1/20/03 Russian 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.
1/20/03 Secretary of State Colin L. Powell calls on the IAEA to refer the North Korean case to the U.N. Security Council.
1/21-24/03 North and South Korean officials hold their 9th inter-ministerial talks, with few results.
1/22-25/03 A second round of working-level talks on road and rail linkages, held in Pyongyang, agrees on various practicalities.
1/25/03 Following South Korean requests, the IAEA postpones a scheduled emergency meeting on the North Korean.
1/27/03 At 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.
1/28/03 In 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."
1/31/03 KCNA 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."
2/1/03 The North & South Korean teams march together under a "unification flag" at the opening ceremony of the Winter Asian Games in Misawa, Japan.
2/4/03 In 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 North Korea.
2/5/03 North Korea announces the reactivation of its nuclear reactor at Yongbyon for "peaceful purposes."
2/6/03 Interviewed by the BBC, North Korea's Foreign Ministry deputy 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.
2/11/03 Citing the North Korean nuclear crisis, Moody's Investors Services downgrades South Korea's credit rating outlook by two notches, from positive to negative.
2/11-14/03 At 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 nuclear issue.
2/12/03 By 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.
2/12/03 Testifying 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.
2/14/03 Kim Dae Jung apologizes for the $500 million Hyundai secretly sent to North Korea in the days before the June 2000 summit.
2/14/03 The official opening of a 23-mile land route to Mt. Kumgang across the DMZ.
2/15/03 Japan'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.
2/19/03 The U.N. Security Council takes up the North Korean nuclear crisis for the first time, but defers making a decision on how to respond.
2/19/03 A 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.
2/19/03 Speaking before the Chamber of Commerce, South Korean President-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.'"
2/20-25/03 Two 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.
2/23-25/03 Secretary 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 channels."
2/24/03 North Korea fires a short-range missile into the Sea of Japan.
2/24/03 China 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.
2/25/03 Roh 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 issue should be resolved peacefully through dialogue. The 16th South Korean President also says Pyongyang must abandon nuclear development.
2/26/03 U.S. officials announce that satellite evidence indicates North Korea has restarted its nuclear reactor at Yongbyon.
2/26/03 South 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.
2/27/03 U.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 2003 China 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.
3/1/03 The 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 the U.S.
3/2/03 Four 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.
3/3/03 North Korean radio reports that Kim Jong-il has warned that "nuclear war could break out if the United States attacks his country's nuclear program."
3/3/03 In an interview with the Baltimore Sun, President Bush explicitly 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.
3/4/03 The United States and South Korea begin "Foal Eagle" large-scale joint military exercises, due to run until April 2.
3/5/03 North Korea's Rodong Shinbun calls for a non-aggression treaty with the United States.
3/6/03 Secretary 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."
3/6/03 At a prime-time news conference, President Bush says that "the best way" to deal with the North Korea nuclear issue is in "a multilateral fashion."
3/10/03 North Korea test-fires another short-range missile into the Sea of Japan.
3/10-12/03 At rail and road talks in Kaesong, the two Koreas agree to start relinking two trans-DMZ railways in late March.
3/11/03 Representatives of South Korea's two largest labor unions hold talks with their North Korean counterparts in Pyongyang.
3/12/03 South 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."
3/12/03 During a hearing at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Assistant Secretary of State James A. Kelly says that production of highly enriched uranium is probably "a matter of months, not years."
3/19/03  U.S.-led coalition begins war with Iraq. South Korea's military is placed on its highest alert in seven years.
3/21/03 North 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.
3/26/03 The North Korean military cancels a routine meeting with the U.N. Command at Panmunjon, saying it could take "new important measures" to protest the U.S.-ROK Foal Eagle military exercises.
3/28/03 Japan launches its first of two spy satellites.
3/30-31/03 South Korean Foreign Minister Yoon Young Kwan visits Japan to meet his counterpart and reportedly presents a "road map" for bringing Pyongyang to multilateral talks to end the nuclear crisis.
3/31/03 In 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 plutonium.
3/31/03 In 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 nuclear program.
4/1/03 The 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.
4/1/03 South 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.
4/2/03 South 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."
4/7-9/03 Scheduled 10th round of North-South inter-ministerial talks are not held.
4/9/03 The 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.
4/10/03  North Korea's withdrawal from the Non-Proliferation Treaty becomes effective.
4/11/03 In 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.
4/12/03 KCNA 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."
4/12/03 A 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.
4/16/03 The United States, North Korea and China agree to hold trilateral talks in Beijing beginning April 23.
4/16/03 The 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.
4/18/03 KCNA'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.
4/20/03 Australia seizes a North Korean cargo ship, the Pong Su, for alleged trafficking in $48 million worth of heroin.
4/23-26/03  Three-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

4/25/03 Fearing a spread of the SARS epidemic, North Korea suspends Mt. Kumgang tours.
4/27-30/03 North 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.
4/28/03 Japanese 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.
5/6/03 At 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.
5/7/03 South 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.
5/13/03 KCNA 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 Korean peninsula."
5/14/03 First 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."
5/15/03 In 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."
5/19-23/03 The 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 out.
5/22-23/03 After 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 abducted Japanese.
5/24/03 Quoted 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.
5/27/03 In 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 socio-economic development."
5/29-31/03 Visiting 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."
5/31/03 In Poland, President Bush announces the launching of an eleven-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 cargo.
6/1-2/03 At 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 programs."
6/2/03 South 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.
6/5/03 The United States and South Korea reportedly agree to relocate the 2nd Infantry Division, deployed near the demilitarized zone (DMZ), to the south of the Han River in two phases.
6/6-8/03 After 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."
6/7-9/03 During working level talks in North Korean city of Kaesong, the 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.
6/9-12/03 Scheduled inter-Korean ministerial talks are not held.
6/9/03 U.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.
6/9/03 KCNA 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."
6/12/03 The 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.
6/12-13/03 During 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 means.
6/15/03 North Korea holds a grand festival for national reunification to mark the third anniversary of the June 2000 inter-Korean summit.
6/18/03 At 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."
6/18/03 KCNA 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...."
6/19/03 U.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...."
6/25/03 A 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.
6/27-30/03 7th round of family reunions.
6/27/03 Hyundai's Mt. Kumgang tours resume.
6/30/03 A ground-breaking ceremony for the construction of Kaesong industrial site is held.
7/1/03 The 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.
7/2/03 At 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.
7/7-10/03 ROK President Roh travels to China. After meeting with Roh, 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."
7/8/03 During 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.
7/9-12/03 The 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.
7/11/03 The 11 PSI members meet in Brisbane, Australia and agree to share intelligence and hold joint military exercises.
7/12/03 Media 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.
7/12-15/03 Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Dai Bingguo, visits Pyongyang, where he reportedly urges Kim to accept US-proposed multilateral talks.
7/14-15/03 The KEDO Executive Board meets and fails to reach agreement on a reported U.S. proposal to suspend the project.
7/17/03 A meeting of the Bush administration's Cabinet level officials on national security matters exclusively devoted to the North Korean crisis.
7/17/03 South and North Korean soldiers briefly exchange machine-gun fire at the DMZ.
7/18/03 Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Dai Bingguo visits Washington, meets with Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Colin Powell, and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice.
7/20/03 Anonymous 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 Korea.
7/22/03 White House spokesman Scott McClellan says "no substantive progress can be made on key issues unless they [South Korea and Japan] are included."
7/25/03 U.S. State Department imposes sanctions on North Korean enterprise Changgwang Sinyong Corporation for selling Scud missiles to Yemen.
7/27-8/1/03 Undersecretary 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.
7/29-31/03 At 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.
7/30/03 North 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.
August According 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.
8/1/03 Quoting a North Korean foreign ministry spokesman, KCNA reports that North Korea will enter six-party multilateral talks.
8/4/03 Chung Mong-hun, chairman of the Hyundai group, commits suicide. Chung was charged with facilitating illicit payments to North Korea.
8/7/03 Media 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.
8/7/03 Speaking 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.
8/9/03 South Korean navy boats fire warning shots at North Korean boats that crossed the NLL.
8/13/03 KCNA 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.
8/13/03 In 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."
8/15/03 In 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."
8/16/03 Prosecutors 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.
8/18/03 KCNA 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.
8/18/03 Six-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 later declines.
8/18/03 A South Korean navy patrol boat fires warning shots at a North Korean fishing boat, which entered South Korean territorial waters.
8/18-29/03 South Korean and U.S. forces conduct the annual Ulji Focus Lens joint military exercises.
8/19/03 North 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.
8/20/03 Kim 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.
8/20/03 Four 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.
8/21-23/03 A 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.
8/26/03 The South Korean navy fires warning shots after a North Korean navy vessel crossed the NLL.
8/26-29/03 In 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 mid-October.
8/27-29/03 First 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 phases.

Build-Up to the February 2004 Six-Party Talks

8/30/03 An 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-defensive means."
9/1/03 Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, tells reporters that he considers the United States the "main obstacle" to settling the nuclear issue peacefully.
9/1/03 Hyundai Asan resumes overland tours to Mt. Kumgang that had been suspended soon after they began in February.
9/2/03 KCNA carries a commentary saying, "we have not yet changed our firm will to resolve the nuclear problem...through dialogue."
9/3/03 Eight of North Korea's 31-member cabinet are replaced, including the prime minister. Many of the new Cabinet officials are their 40s and 50s.
9/3-4/03 The 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.
9/5/03 A scheduled North-South Korean meeting to discuss construction of a permanent family reunion center is canceled.
9/15/03 Over 100 South Korean tourists fly directly from Seoul to Pyongyang, 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."
9/17/03 The eighth North-South military working talks, at Panmunjom, agree to start using nearly completed trans-DMZ roads and to set up a hot line.
9/19/03 The 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."
9/20-25/03 The eighth round of family reunions. At Mt. Kumgang, over 550 elderly South Koreans are briefly reunited with 346 of their Northern relatives.
9/26/03 A 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."
9/29/03 Informal TCOG consultations in Tokyo.
9/29/03 South Korea begins implementing procedures for verifying the origin of goods imported from North Korea.
10/1/03 On 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.
10/2/03 North Korea's Foreign Ministry, in a statement carried by KCNA, 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.
10/3/03 KCNA 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 June.
10/6/03 In 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.
10/6/03 The 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.
10/7/03 In 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 issue.
10/11-12/03 A 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.
10/13/03 South Korea announces it will provide an additional 100,000 tonnes of free fertilizer aid to North Korea.
10/14-17/03 The 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.
10/16/03 KCNA quotes a Foreign Ministry spokesman as saying "when the time comes, the DPRK will take steps to physically display its nuclear deterrent force."
10/17/03 During 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.
10/20/03 On 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.
10/20-21/03 At 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.
10/20/03 A 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 military exercises.
10/26/03 Representative 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 congressional delegation.
10/27-28/03 Seventh inter-Korean working-level contacts for reconnecting rail and road links held in Kaesong.
10/27-11/5/03 Hwang 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.
10/27/03 In the first private sector trans-DMZ trucking trip, the ROK's largest logistics operator, Korea Express, takes 100,000 roof tiles to Kaesong.
10/29-31/03 In 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."
10/30/03 State 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.
11/4/03 Meeting 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 11/21/03.
11/4-6/03 North 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.
11/5-8/03 Seventh meeting of joint economic talks is held in Pyongyang. A 7-point joint agreement covers rail connections, the Kaesong industrial zone, shipping, and flood control.
11/6/03 North Korean Ambassador to London Ri Yong Ho informs Reuters that his country possesses a "nuclear deterrent."
11/13/03 Two senior North Korean diplomats, Kim Yong-ho and Kim Song-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.
11/14/03 The two Koreas hold their ninth working-level military talks at Panmunjom, to discuss establishing guard posts in the DMZ along the cross-border railways.
11/16-18/03 In 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 DMZ.
11/24/03 The South Korean navy fires five warning shots after a North Korean patrol boat crossed the NLL.
11/28/03 Tenth military working-level talks at Panmunjom fail to agree on the details of guard posts in the DMZ for cross-border railway and road corridors.
11/29/03 Pyongyang's Central Korean Agency says that if Japan insists on discussing the abduction issue, it will be barred from participating in the talks.
12/2-5/03 South 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.
12/5/03 The two Koreas open a second military hotline, along the eastern railway line.
12/8/03 According 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 economic assistance.
12/9/03 KCNA 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.
12/12/03 The 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."
12/14/03 During a phone conversation with Secretary of State Colin Powell, 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.
12/12/03 Former 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 Hyundai.
12/15/03 State Department spokesman Richard Boucher cites China as saying that it is unlikely that six-way talks will start before January 2004.
12/17/03 President Roh announces that the ROK will send 3,000 troops, including 1,400 combat soldiers, to assist coalition forces in Iraq.
12/17-20/03 Inter-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.
12/19/03 Chief 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.
12/20/03 Libyan 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.
12/23/03 North and South Korea agree to set up four guard posts within each of the two new cross-border road and rail corridors inside the DMZ.
12/24/03 The U.S. State Department announces the U.S. will send 60,000 tons of food aid to North Korea.
12/27/03 Upon 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.
1/5/04 At 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 soon.
1/6-10/03 Two 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.
1/6/04 In 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.
1/8/04 Joseph 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.
1/13/04 Fu Ying, director for Asian affairs at the Chinese Foreign Ministry, 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.
1/13-17/04 Four Japanese Foreign Ministry officials travel to Pyongyang to discuss the issue of Japanese abduction victims with North Korean officials.
1/15-17/04 DPRK and ROK Red Cross organizations meet at Mt. Kumgang to discuss further the construction of a family reunion center, but fail to agree.
1/17/04 U.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.
1/18/04 South 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.
1/21-22/04 TCOG meeting in Washington reaches agreement on pressing North Korea to agree to nuclear inspections at the six-party talks.
1/27-29/04 Working-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.
1/27/04 Seoul-based Inter-Korea Economic Association says it is completing an information technology complex in Pyongyang, to open in March.
1/29/04 Deputy 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.
1/29/04 Japan'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.
2/2-3/04 In 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 North Korea.
2/3/04 North Korea announces that it will attend a new round of six-party talks in Beijing on February 25.
2/3-6/04 At 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.
2/4/04 Abdul 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.
2/5/04 South 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."
2/11/04 ROK Ambassador to the U.S., Han Sung-joo says the DPRK must discuss its uranium enrichment nuclear program at the six-party talks.
2/11/04 In 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 consequences."
2/13/04 South 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.
2/17/04 In 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."
2/17/04 In 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.
2/19/04 In an interview, Secretary of State Colin Powell says, "I would like to see working groups created" at the next round of six-party talks.
2/22/04 TCOG 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.
2/23/04 ROK 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."
2/24/04 Tamiko 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.
2/25-28/04 Second 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

2/25-26/04 At road and rail talks in Kaesong, the two Koreas agree on maintenance issues and on the need to build an asphalt plant.
2/25-26/04 At 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.
3/1/04 In its annual International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, the U.S. State Department says it is "highly likely" that North Korea is involved in state-sponsored drugs trafficking.
3/2-5/04 In 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.
3/3/04 Saying "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.
3/9/04 South Korea says the North has agreed to authenticate the origin of goods exported to the South, which are duty-free.
3/12/04 President 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.
3/14/04 The New York Times reports Pakistan's Khan Research Laboratories provided North Korea with all necessary equipment to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons.
3/15/04 South 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.
3/17/04 In Washington, IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei, President Bush and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice meet, discuss possible modalities for return of inspectors to North Korea.
3/19/04 Due to the flareup of violence in Iraq, the ROK halts plans to deploy forces to Kirkuk and begins investigating alternative sites.
3/22/04 In 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.
3/23-25/04 Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing travels to Pyongyang and meets with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il.
3/29/04 The ninth inter-Korean reunion of separated family members at Mt. Kumgang is suspended briefly after a South Korean official makes a joke about Kim Jong-il.
4/1-2/04 Former 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.
4/8-10/04 At 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 May.
4/8-10/04 At the fourth meeting of the working-level council for the connection of railroads and roads, in Kaesong, ROK and DPRK officials sign a 16-point joint agreement laying out details of railroad cooperation, 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.
4/9-16/04 Vice 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.
4/13/04 Hyundai Asan, Korea Land Corp., and North Korea sign a $16 million land-leasing agreement for Kaesong, under which South Korean firms would pay 150,000 won per pyeong (3.3 m.2) to open shop in the industrial park.
4/13/04 The 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.
4/15/04 Parliamentary elections in South Korea give a narrow majority to center-left Uri Party, which backs impeached President Roh.
4/15/04 The U.N. Human Rights Commission in Geneva passes an EU-sponsored resolution on DPRK human rights. South Korea and 15 other countries abstain.
4/19-21/04 Kim 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 countries.
4/20-22/04 The third working-level meeting for settling inter-Korean debts held in Paju, South Korea.
4/20/04 Kaesong 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 the DPRK.
4/22/04 A large blast occurs at the Ryongchon train station in North Korea, 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.
4/23/04 The South Korean Unification Ministry officially approves the pilot site for Kaesong, to consist of 10-15 firms.
4/29/04 North 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.
5/4-7/04 At 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.
5/2-3/04 Japan-North Korea talks on abduction issue in Beijing.
5/4-5/11/04 A delegation of New York-based Korean-American businessmen visit North Korea, including Kaesong.
5/12-14/04 Six-party working level talks held in Beijing.
5/12/04 In 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.
5/14/04 South Korea's constitutional court dismisses the impeachment case against Roh Moo-hyun, restoring him to the presidency.
5/16/04 The Bush Administration notifies South Korea that it will redeploy to Iraq 3,600 troops from the 2nd Infantry Division in South Korea.
5/22/04 Koizumi-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.
5/23/04 The 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.
5/24/04 Red Cross officials from North and South Korea meet at Mount Kumgang to discuss family reunion issues.
5/26/04 At 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.
6/3-6/04 At 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 DPRK.
6/3/04 At the 2nd round of inter-Korean military talks, held between one-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 mid-August.
6/4/04 A 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.
6/7/04 South 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.
6/8/04 Zhou 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.
6/8/04 At 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 six-party talks.
6/13-14/04 TCOG meeting in Washington.
6/14/04 North 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.
6/15/04 President 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."
6/15/04 North and South Korea end their loudspeaker propaganda broadcasts along the DMZ.
6/21-23/04 2nd Round of Six-Party Working-level Talks in Beijing.
6/23-26/04 At 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

6/30-7/2/04 The 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.
7/1/04 At 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.
7/1/04 Kyodo 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.
7/3/04 One-day overland trips for South Koreans, through the DMZ, to Mt. Kumgang begin.

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 to Japan.

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 Beijing.

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.

7/11-7/16/04The 10th round of family reunions at Mt. Kumgang.

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 sham offer."

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 progress.

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 Korea.

9/2/04South Korea admits scientists enriched a tiny amount of uranium in 2000 to a level close to what would be usable in a nuclear weapon. 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 fire."

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 reported.

9/27/04In a speech before the opening session of the U.N. General Assembly, 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.

9/28/04The Senate approves H.R. 4011, the North Korea Human Rights Act.

9/30/04In their first debate of the presidential campaign, President Bush and Democratic presidential nominee Kerry clash over the U.S.' North Korea policy.

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 down.

10/18/04President Bush signs the North Korean Human Rights Act into law. (P.L. 108-333)

10/21/04Dedication ceremony held in Kaesong for the new office of Koland, 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."

10/23/04Secretary of State Powell begins a trip to Japan, China, and the ROK. 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 incidents.

11/2/04George W. Bush re-elected to the U.S. Presidency.

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 weapons programs."

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.

11/29/04At ASEAN Plus Three summit in Laos, PRC Premier Wen Jiabiao, 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 families.

12/3/04The two Koreas announce an agreement for South Korean electric power company KEPCO to supply electricity to the Kaesong Industrial Complex.

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 coordinate."

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 Hosoda.

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 nuclear programs.

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 nuclear programs)

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 South Korea)

Figure 1. Map of the Korean Peninsula


1. (back) Prepared by [author name scrubbed], Analyst in Asian Affairs.

2. (back) 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. (back) 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.

4. (back) See CRS Issue Brief IB98045, Korea: U.S.-Korean Relations -- Issues for Congress, by Larry Niksch.

5. (back) "Bush Suggests Path To Pyongyang Pact -- Multinational Push Targets Nuclear-Arms Program," Asian Wall Street Journal. October 20, 2003.

6. (back) "US Softens Tone Toward N. Korea," Christian Science Monitor. June 24, 2004.

7. (back) "Discord on North Korea as Powell Finishes East Asia Trip," New York Times. October 27, 2004.

8. (back) 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 [author name scrubbed]. 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. (back) "N. Koreans Tell U.S. Officials They Have Nuclear Weapons," Washington Post. April 27, 2003.

10. (back) "US Redeployments to Iraq Rattle South Korean Alliance," Christian Science Monitor. May 20, 2004.

11. (back) "Roh's Unique Point of View," Asian Wall Street Journal. December 7, 2004.

12. (back) 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 [author name scrubbed].

13. (back) "Any Japan Economic Penalties Mean 'War,' N. Korea Says," Los Angeles Times. December 16, 2004.

14. (back) 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.

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