North Korea Nuclear Timeline Fast Facts

North Korea signs the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) demands that inspectors be given access to two nuclear waste storage sites. In response, North Korea threatens to quit the NPT but eventually opts to continue participating in the treaty.

North Korea and the United States sign an agreement. North Korea pledges to freeze and eventually dismantle its old, graphite-moderated nuclear reactors in exchange for international aid to build two new light-water nuclear reactors.

October – The Bush Administration reveals that North Korea has admitted operating a secret nuclear weapons program in violation of the 1994 agreement.

January 10 – North Korea withdraws from the NPT.

February – The United States confirms North Korea has reactivated a five-megawatt nuclear reactor at its Yongbyon facility, capable of producing plutonium for weapons.

April – Declares it has nuclear weapons.

North Korea tentatively agrees to give up its entire nuclear program, including weapons. In exchange, the United States, China, Japan, Russia and South Korea say they will provide energy assistance to North Korea, as well as promote economic cooperation.
July – After North Korea test fires long range missiles, the UN Security Council passes a resolution demanding that North Korea suspend the program.
October – North Korea claims to have successfully tested its first nuclear weapon. The test prompts the UN Security Council to impose a broad array of sanctions.

February 13 – North Korea agrees to close its main nuclear reactor in exchange for an aid package worth $400 million.

September 30 – At six-party talks in Beijing, North Korea signs an agreement stating it will begin disabling its nuclear weapons facilities.

December 31 – North Korea misses the deadline to disable its weapons facilities.

December – Six-party talks are held in Beijing. The talks break down over North Korea’s refusal to allow international inspectors unfettered access to suspected nuclear sites.

June 12 – The UN Security Council condemns the nuclear test and imposes new sanctions.

October 24-25 – US officials meet with a North Korean delegation in Geneva, Switzerland, in an effort to restart the six-party nuclear arms talks that broke down in 2008.
January 24 – North Korea’s National Defense Commission says it will continue nuclear testing and long-range rocket launches in defiance of the United States. The tests and launches will feed into an “upcoming all-out action” targeting the United States, “the sworn enemy of the Korean people,” the commission says.
February 12 – Conducts third nuclear test. This is the first nuclear test carried out under Kim Jong Un. Three weeks later, the United Nations orders additional sanctions in protest.
March 30-31 – North Korea warns that it is prepping another nuclear test. The following day, the hostility escalates when the country fires hundreds of shells across the sea border with South Korea. In response, South Korea fires about 300 shells into North Korean waters and sends fighter jets to the border.
May 6 – In an exclusive interview with CNN, the deputy director of a North Korean think tank says the country has the missile capability to strike mainland United States and would do so if the United States “forced their hand.”
May 20 – North Korea says that it has the ability to miniaturize nuclear weapons, a key step toward building nuclear missiles. A US National Security Council spokesman responds that the United States does not think the North Koreans have that capability.
September 9 – North Korea claims to have detonated a nuclear warhead. According to South Korea’s Meteorological Administration, the blast is estimated to have the explosive power of 10 kilotons.
January 8 – During an interview on “Meet the Press,” Defense Secretary Ash Carter says that the military will shoot down any North Korean missile fired at the United States or any of its allies.
July 4 – North Korea claims it has conducted its first successful test of an intercontinental ballistic missile, or ICBM, that can “reach anywhere in the world.”
July 25 – North Korea threatens a nuclear strike on “the heart of the US” if it attempts to remove Kim as Supreme Leader, according to Pyongyang’s state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
August 7 – North Korea accuses the United States of “trying to drive the situation of the Korean peninsula to the brink of nuclear war” after the UN Security Council unanimously adopts new sanctions in response to Pyongyang’s long-range ballistic missile tests last month.
August 9 – North Korea’s military is “examining the operational plan” to strike areas around the US territory of Guam with medium-to-long-range strategic ballistic missiles, state-run news agency KCNA says. The North Korea comments are published one day after President Donald Trump warns Pyongyang that if it continues to threaten the United States, it would face “fire and fury like the world has never seen.”
September 3 – North Korea carries out its sixth test of a nuclear weapon, causing a 6.3 magnitude seismic event, as measured by the United States Geological Survey. Pyongyang claims the device is a hydrogen bomb that could be mounted on an intercontinental missile. A nuclear weapons monitoring group describes the weapon as up to eight times stronger than the bomb dropped in Hiroshima in 1945. In response to the test, Trump tweets that North Korea continues to be “very hostile and dangerous to the United States.” He goes on the criticize South Korea, claiming that the country is engaging in “talk of appeasement” with its neighbor to the north. He also says that North Korea is “an embarrassment to China,” claiming Beijing is having little success reining in the Kim regime.
January 2 – Trump ridicules Kim in a tweet. The president says that he has a larger and more functional nuclear button than the North Korean leader in a post on Twitter, responding to Kim’s claim that he has a nuclear button on his desk.
March 6 – South Korea’s national security chief Chung Eui-yong says that North Korea has agreed to refrain from nuclear and missile testing while engaging in peace talks. North Korea has also expressed an openness to talk to the United States about abandoning its nuclear program, according to Chung.
December 5New satellite images obtained exclusively by CNN reveal North Korea has significantly expanded a key long-range missile base, offering a reminder that Kim is still pursuing his promise to mass produce and deploy the existing types of nuclear warheads in his arsenal.
January 18Trump meets with Kim Yong Chol, North Korea’s lead negotiator on nuclear talks, and they discuss “denuclearization and a second summit, which will take place near the end of February.”

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