Timeline of Humanity
in focus: North Korea Nuclearization
Timeline: North Korea Nuclearization | BeingBlackToday.com
1953
WORLD STAGE
NORTH KOREA
Nikita Khrushchev, 1st Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and Kim Il-sung, 1st Supreme Leader of North Korea
Soviet Union Aids North Korea in Acquiring Nuclear Technology
 
Soon after the end of the Korean War, the North Koreans reach out to the Soviet Union for help in developing nuclear weapons, but the Russians refuse their request.

However, the Soviets did concede to help them in developing a peaceful nuclear energy program by training their scientist and engineers in the "basic knowledge" of atomic energy.

Over the course of the next several years, the North Koreans sent delegations to the Soviet Union to study the use of atomic energy, and welcomed the Soviets into their country for the same.

1959
WORLD STAGE
NORTH KOREA
Nuclear Explosion
United States vs North Korea
United States Targets North Korea Installs Nuclear Warheads in South Korea
 
Over the terms of eight U.S. Presidents, spanning three decades from 1959 to 1991, the United States had active nuclear warheads installed in South Korea, targeting North Korea.

The following U.S. Presidents were in office to oversee this direct, self-defensive threat against North Korea:
North Korea vs United States
Top (L-R): 34- Dwight D. Eisenhower, 35- John F. Kennedy, 36 - Lyndon B. Johnson, 37- Richard Nixon.  Bottom (L-R): 38 - Gerald Ford, 39 - Jimmy Carter, 40 - Ronald Regan, 41 - George H.W. Bush



1959
WORLD STAGE
NORTH KOREA
Nikita Khrushchev, Soviet Union
and Kim Il-sung, North Korea
Agreement on Peaceful Use of Nuclear Energy: Soviet Union and North Korea
 
In 1959, North Korea and the Soviet Union signed an agreement on the peaceful use of nuclear energy that included a provision for Soviet help to establish a nuclear research complex in Yongbyon and supply them with a research reactor.

Research and Training Facilities
In the early 1960s, North Korea received the Soviet IRT-200 nuclear research reactor and the Soviet Union provided extensive technical assistance to North Korea in constructing the Yongbyon Nuclear Research Center and associated facilities. North Korea used this small research reactor to produce radioisotopes and to train personnel.

Kim Il Sung in Complete Control
Although the cabinet and the Academy of Sciences were given operational and administrative oversight of the nuclear facilities, then-North Korean leader Kim Il Sung retained ultimate control of the nuclear program and all decisions associated with weapons development.

Despite the early assistance from Moscow (and minor assistance from China), the North Korea nuclear program developed largely without significant foreign assistance.

Relations Deteriorate with China
After China completed its first nuclear test in October 1964, Kim Il Sung asked China to share its nuclear weapon technology, but Chinese leader Mao Zedong refused. Shortly thereafer, North Korean relations with China began to deteriorate.

1962
WORLD STAGE
NORTH KOREA
Kim Il-sung, North Korea Leader
North Korea Expands Nuclear Energy Educational Institutions
 
In the late 1960s, North Korea expanded its educational and research institutions to support a nuclear program for both civilian and military applications with the opening of the Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center.

1976
WORLD STAGE
NORTH KOREA
Muhammad Anwar el-Sadat, President of Egypt and Kim Il-sung, Supreme Leader of North Korea
North Korea Begins Ballistic Missile Program
 
In the late 1970s, around 1976, Egypt sent North Korea several Soviet Scud-type missiles, which North Korean engineers began to reverse engineer to begin their ballistic missile program.

North Korea Kim Il-sung
Over the next several years, the North Koreans also began uranium mining operations at various locations.

1980
WORLD STAGE
NORTH KOREA
Kim Il-sung, North Korea Leader
North Korea Makes Strides in Developing Nuclear Weaponry
 
Beginning in the 1980s, North Korea began making significant strides in the development of nuclear weaponry.

In 1980 they built a factory at Yongbyon to refine yellowcake, used in the preparation of uranium fuel for nuclear reactors.

In 1984 they completed construction of a gas-cooled, graphite-moderated nuclear reactor for plutonium production, and began construction of a second nuclear reactor.


1985
WORLD STAGE
NORTH KOREA
North Korea Joins the Non-Prolifiration Treaty
 
North Korea signs the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) but is not immediately compliant with the safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Under Article III of the NPT, North Korea has 18 months to conclude such an arrangement.

In the years that follow, North Korea stalls compliance, determining that it will not comply unless the United States withdraws its nuclear weapons from South Korea. 


1989
WORLD STAGE
NORTH KOREA
George H.W. Bush, 41st U.S. President and
Kim Il-sung, 1st Supreme Leader of North Korea
U.S. Attempts to Goad North Korea into Compliance with NPT
 
The United States makes an offer of normalized diplomatic relations with North Korea, in exchange for their compliance with the NPT.

Although North Korea had signed the NPT in 1985, it had not yet allowed inspections of its nuclear facilities, and U.S. satellite surveillance indicated that they were in the early stages of building a nuclear bomb.

1994
WORLD STAGE
NORTH KOREA
Bill Clinton, US President and
Kim Jong-Il, Leader of North Korea
North Korea's First Agreement with the Outside World
 
Agreed Framework
In 1994, the U.S. had been on the brink of war with North Korea over its threat to go nuclear. At the time, the U.S. was in the planning stage of sending a substantial reinforcement troops to South Korea to bolster its strategic efforts. And based upon the accounts of former U.S. president, Jimmy Carter, who had traveled to North Korea, the North Koreans were also in preparation for war. It was President Carter’s call from North Korea that prompted sitting President Bill Clinton to construct the first agreement made by North Korea with the outside world.

North Korea vs United States
Former President Jimmy Carter and Former President  Kim Il Sung (died July 1994)

In his call from North Korea to President Clinton, former president Jimmy Carter, said that he had talked with Kim Il Sung and that Kim Il Sung had told him that he was prepared to stop the nuclear program at Yongbyon if the United States was prepared to offer him an alternative, light-water nuclear reactor. And after a lot of negotiations, the Clinton administration crafted the deal known as the Agreed Framework, in which the North promised to freeze and eventually dismantle its graphite-moderated reactors and related facilities in exchange for two light-water reactors, 500,000 tons of heavy fuel oil every year, supplied by the U.S., to make up for the theoretical loss of the reactor while the new one were built, and eventual normalization of political and economic relations with the United Sates. 

South Korea, Japan, and Europeans
There was also an international component, the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO) was formed with South Korea, Japan and a European agency joining with the United States to implement the agreement.

No Constitutional Advise and Consent
Clinton structured the agreement so that it was not considered a formal treaty that would have required ratification by the Senate under Constitutional “advise and consent”, but formed it as a presidential “executive agreement”.

Some congressmen and senators demanded that the “agreed framework” be treated as a formal treaty; this move was resisted by the Clinton Administration but, because of the budgetary and appropriation clauses of the agreement, the U.S. Congress was inevitably drawn into the process of implementation and verification of the agreement.

The Agreed Framework ended an 18-month crisis during which North Korea announced its intention to withdraw from the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), under which North Korea committed not to develop nuclear weapons. It succeeded in temporarily freezing North Korea’s plutonium production capabilities and placing it under IAEA safeguards. Experts estimate that without the Agreed Framework, North Korea could have had hundreds of nuclear weapons at that point.

North Korea vs United States

George W. Bush Tanks the Agreed Framework
It was always suspected, but not confirmed that North Korea never abided by the agreement, but continued to work covertly on it nuclear weapons program, violating the Agreed Framework, the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, as well as their agreements with South Korea.

After George W. Bush, who opposed the Agreed Framework, was elected to the presidency, all work and effort in fulfilling the agreement ceased, justified by intelligence reports that he received stating that the North Koreans were in violation of the agreement.


2002
WORLD STAGE
NORTH KOREA
George W. Bush, US President and
Kim Jong-Il, Leader of North Korea
State of the Union Address: President G.W. Bush Labels North Korea "Axis of Evil"
 
In his 2002 State of the Union Address, U.S. President George W. Bush called North Korea "A regime arming with missiles and weapons of mass destruction, while starving its citizens" and labeled them as being an "axis of evil".


2003
WORLD STAGE
NORTH KOREA
North Korea vs United States
China, North Korea, Russia, United States
South Korea and Japan
Six-Party Talks Round #1 Aug 27th - Aug 29th, 2003 Peaceful Resolution Sought for Security Concerns
 
Following North Korea's withdrawal from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), six sovereign nations met in Bejing China, in an attempt to find a peaceful resolution to security concerns in regard to North Korea.

North Korea began arming themselves with nuclear weapons as the only guarantee to preventing the United States from the invasion and violent attack of its country.  And their primary interest in joining these talks was to guarantee their security from a hostile U.S. government, intent on overthrowing their government.  Their concerns were only heightened after President George W. Bush characterized them as an "axis of evil".

Along with guarantees of security, they pushed for a normalization of diplomatic relations with the United States and Japan.  Another primary intrest of the North Koreans was the lifting of economic sanctions and trade normalization. 

The other nations was primarily focused on the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

However, Japan and the United States also demanded that North Korea completely dismantle its nuclear program, and open it for verification by the six members of the talks.  On the other hand, South Korea, China and Russia agreed on a milder, step-by-step solution, with members of the six-party talks giving certain levels of aid in return for each step of nuclear disarmament.

In Round #1 of the Six-Party talks, 

no agreements were made, other than a commitment by all members to another round of talks.

2004
WORLD STAGE
NORTH KOREA
North Korea vs United States
China, North Korea, Russia, United States
South Korea and Japan
Six-Party Talks Round #2 Feb 25th - Feb 28th, 2004 Peaceful Resolution Sought for Security Concerns
 
After their meeting in 2004, the six sovereign nations produced seven articles of intent, including:
  • Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula
  • Peaceful coexistence of the member nations and the use of mutually coordinated measures to resolve crises
  • An agreement to hold a third round of talks with full participation by all

2004
WORLD STAGE
NORTH KOREA
North Korea vs United States
China, North Korea, Russia, United States
South Korea and Japan
Six-Party Talks Round #3 Jun 23rd - Jun 26th, 2004 Peaceful Resolution Sought for Security Concerns
 
After their second meeting of 2004 -- Round #3, the six sovereign nations produced eight articles of intent, including:
  • Being more specific in regard to the scope and time, interval (between steps of) and method of verification of the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula
  • An agreement to hold a fourth round of talks in Bejing



2005
WORLD STAGE
NORTH KOREA
North Korea vs United States
China, North Korea, Russia, United States
South Korea and Japan
Six-Party Talks - Round #4 Phase I Jul 26th - Aug 7th, 2005 Peaceful Resolution Sought for Security Concerns
 
There was pronounced discord in their fourth round of talks -- the United States and North Korea were unable to agree on "peaceful" use of nuclear energy.





2005
WORLD STAGE
NORTH KOREA
North Korea vs United States
China, North Korea, Russia, United States
South Korea and Japan
Six-Party Talks - Round #4 Phase II Sep 13th - Sep 19th, 2005 Peaceful Resolution Sought for Security Concerns
 
After this phase of meetings, the six sovereign nations produced six articles of intent, that included the following:

  • The Korean Peninsula would be subject to verifiable denuclearization reviews
  • The 1992 Korean Peninsula Denuclearization Declaration would be observed
  • North Korea agreed to abandon all nuclear weapons and nuclear programs and return to the NPT as soon as possible
  • North Korea's right to peaceful use of nuclear energy must be respected
  • Table the discussion of light water reactors for a later time
  • United States and South Korea must formally declare when they have no nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula
  • The United States must affirm that it has no intention to attack or invade North Korea and provide a security guarantee to this effect
  • The U.S. and North Korea vow to work on normalizing ties and to respect each other's sovereignty, so that each can peacefully exist
  • Japan and North Korea will work to normalize relations by settling historical disputes
  • Economic cooperation would be sought through strengthening bilateral/multilateral economic cooperation in energy, trade and investment
  • South Korea will provide 2 million kilowats of electricty if North Korea abandons its nuclear arms program, per proposal of 7/12/2005.
  • Commitment to negotiate the Korean Peninsula peace treaty separately

 

The talks ended with an agreement to hold fifth round of talks in early November, 2005.







2005
WORLD STAGE
NORTH KOREA
North Korea vs United States
China, North Korea, Russia, United States
South Korea and Japan
Six-Party Talks (Suspended) Round #5, Phase I Nov 9th - Nov 11th, 2005 Peaceful Resolution Sought for Security Concerns
 
No agreement was reached on when the next talks would be held.





2006
WORLD STAGE
NORTH KOREA
China, North Korea, Russia, United States
South Korea and Japan
North Korea Offers to Resume Six-Party Talks
 

In April 2006, North Korea offered to resume talks if the United States would release recently frozen North Korean financial assets held in a bank in Macau China.







2006
WORLD STAGE
NORTH KOREA
George W. Bush, US President and
Kim Jong-Il, Leader of North Korea
North Korea Announces Planned Test of 1st Nuclear Weapon
 
North Korea announced on October 3, 2006, that it was going to test its first nuclear weapon regardless of the world situation, blaming "hostile" United States policy as the reason for the need for such a deterrent.  However,  it pledged a no-first-strike policy and to nuclear disarmament only when there is worldwide elimination of such nuclear weapons.

By October 9, 2006, North Korea announced a successful nuclear test, verified by the United States on October 11, 2006.



2006
WORLD STAGE
NORTH KOREA
United Nations and North Korea
UN Security Council Sanctions North Korea for Nuclear Testing
 
In response North Korea's announcement of a successful (and verified) nuclear test, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 1718 unanimously condemning North Korea, as well as passing Chapter VII, Article 41.

The resolution provided that North Korea...
  • Must "not conduct any further nuclear test or launch of a ballistic missile"
  • Must "suspend all activities related to its ballistic missile programme
  • Must "abandon all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programmes in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner"
  • Must "return immediately to the six-party talks without precondition".
In addition, the following provisions were made:
  • Shipments of cargo going to and from North Korea may be stopped and inspected for weapons of mass destruction or associated items (however, there is no obligation placed on member states to perform such inspections).
  • The following imports and exports were banned: "battle tanks, armoured combat vehicles, large calibre artillery systems, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships, missiles or missile systems", "related materiel including spare parts" and any other items identified by the sanctions committee.
  • UN member states must freeze the overseas assets of individuals and companies involved with the DPRK's weapons programmes. An international travel ban is also placed on programme employees and their families.
  • UN members are banned from exporting luxury goods to North Korea.
Russia and China were quick to stress that the sanctions were not military-enforceable. In addition, China voiced reservations about the inspection of North Korean vessels, stating that it wanted to avoid any military confrontation with North Korea's navy.

North Korea's Reaction: Security Council is Gangsta
North Korea's UN envoy Pak Gil Yon walked out of the chamber after saying Pyongyang "totally rejects" the "unjustifiable" resolution. He said it was "gangster-like" for the Security Council to have adopted a "coercive resolution" while neglecting US pressure on North Korea: "If the United States increases pressure on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the DPRK will continue to take physical countermeasures considering it as a declaration of war."

Members of the UN Security Council
North Korea vs United States

2006
WORLD STAGE
NORTH KOREA
China, North Korea, Russia, United States
South Korea and Japan
China Announces Six-Party Talks will Resume Without Preconditions
 

The Chinese government had worked tirelessly behind-the-scenes in negotiations.  And on October 31, 2006, announced that the Six-Party Talks would resume.

U.S. negotiator Christopher Hill followed up by stating that North Korea had not set preconditions for the talks.

On the other hand, Japan's Foreign Minister Taro Aso stated that his country was not willing to return to the Six-Party Talks until North Korea had renounced nuclear weapons.

On December 5, 2006, the Russian envoy and former chief Russian negotiator for the Six-Party Talks, Alexander Alexeyev, expressed doubts about the resumption of talks.








2008
WORLD STAGE
NORTH KOREA
North Korea Denuclearization: Six-Party Talks End Without Results
 
The current round of Six-Party Talks failed to produce any results, with the representatives from the United States, North Korea, South Korea, China, Japan, and Russia unable to reach an agreement on the details of a verification protocol.

In the weeks leading up to the inauguration of President Obama, North Korea revved up its rhetoric asserting its status as a nuclear weapons power and demanding that normalization of relations between the two countries must be achieved before North Korea will fully dismantle its nuclear weapons program.

However, days after the official swearing in of President Obama, North Korea's leader Kim Jong-il pledged his country's commitment to the "denuclearization of the Korean peninsula".

2009
WORLD STAGE
NORTH KOREA
United Nations and North Korea
UN Security Council Condemns North Korea for Rocket Launch
 
The UN Security Council issues a presidential statement condemning North Korea for its April 5 launch of a three-stage Unha-2 rocket, which they claimed placed a satellite into orbit.

The Security Council declared the launch to be "in contravention of Security Council resolution 1718", and for punitive measures to be strengthened under that resolution.

2009
WORLD STAGE
NORTH KOREA
United Nations and North Korea
North Korea Withdraws from Talks and Vows to Restart Nuclear Program
 
In response to condemnation by the UN for a rocket launch they conducted, North Korea's Foreign Ministry announced that  they would withdraw from the six-party talks and "will no long be bound" by any of its agreements.

They also informed the world that they would reverse all steps taken to disable its nuclear facilities under the six-party agreements in 2007 and  "fully" reprocess" the 8,000 spent fuel rods to extract plutonium for nuclear weapons.

A couple of days later, North Korea ejects IAEA and U.S. monitors from the Yongbyon nuclear complex.

2012
WORLD STAGE
NORTH KOREA
North Korea Joins with U.S. in Leap Year Deal
 
On February 24, 2012, just two months after Kim Jong-il passed away and Kim Jong-un, his son, had taken over North Korea, U.S. diplomats visited North Korea’s embassy in Beijing.  There, they met with North Korea’s chief negotiator Kim Kye-gwan to negotiate on Pyongyang’s nuclear program and for resumption of food shipments by the United States.

On February 29, 2012, the United States and North Korea simultaneously announced an agreement termed the “Leap Day” Agreement.  With the deal, North Korea promised a moratorium on long-range missile launches, nuclear tests, and to open itself to new international inspections.

Obama Visits Korean DMZ
March 25, 2012.  U.S. President Barack Obama visits U.S. military personnel at the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) which borders North and South Korea, outside Seoul.Deterrent

In addition, a standard for food aid was also negotiated, where the U.S. would deliver over 240,000 tons of nutritional assistance and U.S. aid workers would be allowed unprecedented access to Korea for monitoring distribution so that the majority population benefited from relief efforts to banish malnutrition, and to ensure that the resources were not diverted to the military.

Direct Violations of Agreement by North Korea
Just weeks after the “Leap Day” show of goodwill from North Korean negotiators, Pyongyang held a satellite launch in April 2012, in a failed attempt to send the Kwangmyyongson-3 into orbit.  Pyongyang followed that up with a successful launch of the Kwangmyongsong-3 Unit 2 in December 2012. Finally, Kim Jong-un oversaw his first nuclear weapons test in February 2013.

2014
WORLD STAGE
SOUTH KOREA
President Obama Visits South Korea and Takes Joint Stand Against North Korea
 
On April 25, 2014, President Barack Obama arrived in Seoul Korea, from Japan, while on a tour of Asia.  He was to spend two days there, holding talks with South Korean leader Park Geun-hye and visiting U.S. troops at the DMZ, before flying to Malaysia.  This official visit marked his fourth visit to South Korea. 

In their talks, the two leaders agreed to reconsider another delay of the scheduled 2015 transfer of wartime operation control (OPCON) of South Korean forces from the United States to South Korea.

Obama Visits Korean DMZ
President Park Geun-hye and President Barack Obama attend a joint press conference at Cheong Wa Dae on April 25, 2014.

During this time, surveillance intelligence reports indicated that North Korea was likely planning a fourth nuclear test.  North Korea had carried out three such test in the past, the most recent being in February 2013.  After each test, the UN imposed sanctions that prohibited North Korea from nuclear tests, under resolution 1718.

Before having arrived in Seoul, Obama called the North Korean problem “the most destabilizing, dangerous situation in all of the Asia-Pacific region”.  When speaking in Seoul, President Obama warned that provocations by Pyongyang would only lead to further isolation, and the U.S. and South Korea would never accept a nuclear North Korea.  He also stated that China was beginning to recognize that North Korea is “not just a nuisance but a significant problem to their own security”.

In a joint response, Presidents Park and Obama voiced a strong and clear message that any forms of future provocation by North Korea would only be met with further isolation and a stronger international response.  President Obama went on to say, “It is important for us to look at additional ways to apply pressure on North Korea, further sanctions that have even more bite”.    Both leaders stressed the importance of China’s role and cooperation in deterring the North’s provocation. 

President Obama followed by calling on Japan and South Korea to work together to resolve historical tensions and to move forward for their common interests.

2014
WORLD STAGE
NORTH KOREA
North Korea Launches Vicious Attacks Against President of South Korea
 
In comments issued on Sunday, following a visit by U.S. President Barack Obama, the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea (CPRK) issued a series of vicious comments directed at South Korea President Park Guen-hye.

Park Guen-hye was compared to a “crafty prostitute” in thrall to her “pimp” Barack Obama.  She was also described as a “comfort woman”, a reference to thousands of women who were enslaved in Japanese military brothels during World War II.

The CPRK also added the following comments:
Those remarks "laid bare her despicable true colors as a wicked sycophant and traitor, a dirty comfort woman for the US and despicable prostitute selling off the nation".

The trip had shown North Korea was right to have concluded it should deal with the US "by force only, not just talking, and should finally settle accounts with it through an all-out nuclear showdown".

The committee also accused Obama of being "utterly indifferent to the sorrow of South Koreans" over the sinking of the Sewol ferry, which has left more than 300 people, including many children, missing or dead.  "Had Obama even an iota of ethics and morality, he should have postponed or shelved his trip," it said.

The statement also suggested that Park would be assassinated like her father, the late South Korean dictator Park Chung-hee. "Genes remain unchanged," it said.

 

Earlier in the month the state media ran misogynist articles, including one headlined "We accuse Park the bitch", labeling her as a lunatic, idiot and "cold-blooded animal" and emphasizing the fact that she has never married or had children.

2017
WORLD STAGE
NORTH KOREA
US President Donald Trump and China's President Xi Jinping
U.S. and Chinese Presidents Discuss Denuclearization of North Korea
 
U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping meet and agree to cooperate more closely on achieving denuclearization of North Korea.
 

2017
WORLD STAGE
SOUTH CHINA SEA
Trump Halts Freedom of Navigation Operations in South China Sea in Bid to Solidfy China's Support
 
Soon after Donald Trump took over as U.S. Command in Chief, all Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOPS), conducted routinely under President Barack Obama, were stopped in the South China Sea. 

U.S. Policy on Freedom of Navigation
The United States has a Freedom of Navigation (FON) program that challenges territorial claims on the world's oceans and airspace, under the position that all nations must obey the international law of the sea, as codified in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

By custom, the U.S. FONOPs do not challenge the sovereignty of disputed features or territories, and takes no position on such matters, but challenges excessive maritime claims, such as a requirement for prior notification of innocent passage. 

The FON operations conducted under Obama were intended to assert that waters remain open despite a growing Chinese military presence in disputed territory.

Rex Tillerson US Secretary of State
Rex Tillerson
69th U.S. Secretary of State
Feb 1, 2017 – Mar 31, 2018

Bargaining with China on North Korea
Even though China was actively in the process of building airstrips on the islands in dispute, the Trump administration decided to cease U.S. involvement in the territorial dispute, with the expectation that China would help in pressuring North Korea from launching missile tests.

A Pivot from Trump's Campaign
Trump’s pivot on this issue surprised many, as during his campaign, he criticized President Obama for being weak on China in the South China Sea.  And after assuming office, his nominee for U.S. Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, stressed in his Senate confirmation hearing  that China needs to be denied access to the islands.

James Mattis US Secretary of Defense
James Mattis
Secretary of Defense
Jan 20, 2017 - Present

Obama Administration Under Review
Donald Trump's Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, said that putting the FONOPS on hold was part of a broader review of  "the American security posture around the world."

2017
WORLD STAGE
NORTH KOREA
Donald J. Trump, US President and Kim Jong-un, Leader of North Korea
U.S. President Threatens North Korea in First United Nations Address
 
During his first address to the United Nations, the 45th President of the United States, Donald Trump, made an open threat against North Korea.

We will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.

U.S. President Trump, September 19, 2017


2018
WORLD STAGE
NORTH AMERICA
U.S. vs North Korea Mike Pence, US Vice President and Kim Jong-un, Leader North Korea
US Vice President Threatens North Korea: Make Nuclear Deal or Else
 
Just three weeks ahead of a planned US-North Korean nuclear summit, Vice President Mike Pence threatens the North Korean government. 

In an interview on “The Story with Martha MacCallum”, of Fox News, Vice President Pence said that President Trump has made it clear that “this will only end like the Libyan model ended if Kim Jong-un doesn’t make a deal”. His comment bolstered previous comments made by both John Bolton, U.S. National Security Advisor and President Donald Trump.

John Bolton U.S. Security Advisor
John Bolton
US National Security Advisor

During an interview on CBS’s “Face the Nation”, Bolton said that if the Trump administration were to make concessions, it would be “looking at the Libya model of 2003, 2004” in terms of North Korea being required to surrender its nuclear weapons.

April 9, 2018. President Trump with John Bolton, National Security Advisor in White House Oval Office

On April 9, 2018, President Trump contradicts (then confirms) his National Security Advisor, John Bolton, saying,  “The Libyan model isn’t a model that we have [in mind]at all when we’re thinking of North Korea.

“If you look at that model with Gaddafi, that was a total decimation. We went in there to beat him,” he said, whereas “if we make a deal, I think Kim Jong-un is going to be very, very happy.”

However, he warned, the Libyan model “would take place if we don’t make a deal, most likely”. 

Libya Leader Gaddafi
Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi
In agreement with the U.S., voluntarily gave up his country's nuclear weapons program in 2003, in exchange for the lifting of sanctions.  Eight years later, Gadhafi was overthrown and killed by rebel forces backed by the U.S. government.

Pence also said that President Donald Trump is willing to “walk away” from the table if his planned summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un fails.

When it was noted that his comparison between Libya and North Korea could be perceived as a threat, he responded: "Well, I think it's more of a fact."
"It would be a great mistake for Kim Jong Un to think he could play Donald Trump."

2018
WORLD STAGE
NORTH KOREA
U.S. vsNorth Korea
Donald J. Trump, US President
and Kim Jong-un, Leader of North Korea
North Korea Responds to Blitz of Threats Coming from the United States
 
North Korea has responded to the barrage of gangster-styled threats delivered by the U.S. government ahead of the US-North Korean Nuclear Summit, scheduled for June 12, 2018.  U.S. Security Advisor Bolton seemed to punctuate the current U.S. administration's diplomatic stance, while Vice President Mike Pence was unequivocal in his open threat.

John Bolton's 'Absurd Comparison' 
North Korea views the result of Libya surrendering it nuclear capabilities as an example justifying its reason for building and keeping nuclear weapons.  During the 2011 civil war, North Korea said it was a mistake for Libya to agree to dismantle its nuclear program, describing it as “an invasion tactic to disarm the country”.  And North Korean officials condemned Trump’s national security advisor for referencing Libya as a model for dealing with North Korea, in a statement that read:
“World knows too well that our country is neither Libya nor Iraq which have met miserable fate... It is absolutely absurd to dare compare North Korea, a nuclear weapon state, to Libya which had been at the initial stage of nuclear development”.

North Korea Top Official
Choe Son Hui
North Korean Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs (North America Portfolio)

Mike Pence an 'Unbridled and Impudent', 'Political Dummy'
The North Koreans are notoriously known for not being accepting of bullying, and a top North Korean official, Choe Son Hui, addressed the comments made by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence by calling him a “political dummy” who made stupid remarks.

Choe Son Hui threatened that North Korea would reconsider the upcoming nuclear summit between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, after Pence’s “unbridled and impudent” comments.

Statement: North Korea Ready for Nuclear Showdown
Whether the US will meet us at a meeting room or encounter us at nuclear-to-nuclear showdown is entirely dependent upon the decision and behavior of the United States.

2018
WORLD STAGE
NORTH AMERICA
U.S. vs North Korea
Donald J. Trump, US President
and Kim Jong-un, Leader of North Korea
President Trump Cancels Nuclear Summit after North Korean Offical Calls V.P. a "Political Dummy"
 
On May 24, 2018, because of what he termed “anger and open hostility” on the part of North Korea, U.S. President Donald Trump abruptly called off a nuclear summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, scheduled for June 12, 2018.   Trump also warned that the U.S. military was ready for any reckless acts by North Korea.

Even though just days prior, North Korea called Vice President Pence a 'political dummy' and stated that they were ready for a 'nuclear showdown', North Korean Vice Foreign Minister, Kim Kye Gwan, said appeasingly in response to Trump’s announcement that Pyongyang remained open to resolving issues with Washington “at any time in any way”, adding, “We had set in high regards President Trump’s efforts, unprecedented by any other president, to create a historic North Korea-U.S. summit”. 

The summit would have been the first-ever meeting between a serving U.S. president and a North Korean leader.

2018
WORLD STAGE
NORTH AMERICA - CHINA
Donald J. Trump, US President
and Xi Jinping, President of China
President Trump Sweetens the Pot by Lifting Sanctions Against China's ZTE for Trade Violations
 
President Donald Trump announced a deal to save Chinese phone manufacturer ZTE. In a series of tweets, Trump said that he will allow ZTE to “reopen with high level security guarantees, change of management and board.” The agreement will also require the Chinese phone maker to purchase parts from the US and pay a $1.3 billion fine.

If ZTE accepts, the government will lift an order banning US companies from doing business with ZTE for seven years – an order that had prevented ZTE from buying microchips and other components and has crippled its operation.

Background

ZTE sells smartphones and other technology devices and 53 US companies sell components to ZTE, making America the company's second biggest supplier after China, providing about  25% - 30% of the components used in ZTE's manufacturing operation.

ZTE Violates Trade Sanctions
in Exporting Technology to Iran
In 2012, under the Obama administration, the FBI found that ZTE had sold banned technology to Iran and tried to cover up its transaction to block investigation into its violation of trade sanctions and restrictions.

ZTE pleaded guilty in a US federal court for conspiring to violate U.S. sanctions by illegally shipping U.S. goods and technology to Iran.

In 2017, ZTE paid $1.19 billion to settle criminal and civil charges for illegally shipping telecommunications equipment to Iran and North Korea. 

As part of the 2017 settlement, ZTE agreed a seven-year suspended denial of export privileges, "which could be activated if any aspect of the agreement was not met and/or if the company committed additional violations of the Export Administration Regulations."

Also as part of the settlement, ZTE promised to fire four senior employees and discipline 35 others by reducing their bonuses or reprimanding them.

ZTE admitted that it fired the four senior employees but didn't take action against the others.

On April 16, 2018, for violating the terms of its sanctions case, the U.S. Department of Commerce banned all American companies from selling components directly, or via another country, to ZTE for seven years.

ZTE has been struggling under the ban.

2018
WORLD STAGE
RUSSIAN OFFICIAL IN NORTH KOREA
Sergey Lavrov, Russian Foreign Minister
and Kim Jong-un, Leader of North Korea
Top Russian Official Meets with North Korean Leader
 
On May 31, 2018, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met with Kim Jong-un, the leader of North Korea in Pyongyang.  Lavrov's meeting with Kim Jong-un was the first by a senior Russian official since Kim Jong-un came to power in 2011.

Invitation to Visit Russia Extended to Kim Jong-un
While in attendance, Lavrov extended an invitation, on behalf of President Vladimir Putin, for Kim Jong-un to attend an economic forum in Vladiovostok in September 2018.

North Korean Diplomacy Visit to U.S. Concurrent with Lavrov's Visit
By coincidence, as Lavrov met with Kim, senior North Korean officials were in New York meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo attempt to get the US-North Korea nuclear summit back on track, after it was cancelled by President Trump.

On June 4, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Kim Jong-un has not responded to Putin's invitation.

2018
WORLD STAGE
NORTH AMERICA
Donald J. Trump, US President
and Kim Jong-un, Leader of North Korea
President Trump Restores Previously Cancelled Nuclear Summit
 
On June 1, 2018, after meeting with a top aide of North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, President Trump announced that the US-North Korean Nuclear Summit, that he rescinded the week prior (due to North Korea’s ‘anger and open hostility’), was back on.

2018
WORLD STAGE
RUSSIAN PRESIDENT IN CHINA
Vladimir Putin, President of Russia
Vladimir Putin Vows Contribution to Success of US-North Korea Summit
 
While visiting China, in preparation for a scheduled security meeting, Russian President Vladimir Putin vowed to work and contribute to the success of the UN-North Korean nuclear summit in any possible way, indicating that his government is willing to jointly negotiate with the U.S. and North Korea.  Putin said, “We will be waiting for the outcome of the meeting between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and will contribute to the success of this meeting in every possible way”.

Putin also said that the international community should agree to help North Korea’s economic development in exchange for denuclearization. 

2018
WORLD STAGE
UNITED STATES - CHINA
Donald J. Trump, US President
and Xi Jinping, President People's Republic of China
Trump Administrations Offers China's ZTE a 'Do-Over' by Removing Imposed Sanctions for Trade Violations
 
Deja Vu: Commerce Secretary Announces $1 Billion Fine
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross on Thursday announced a deal with Chinese telecommunications company ZTE that includes a $1 billion fine. This is the second fine of $1 billion imposed on ZTE in its trade violations case.  In 2017, ZTE paid the U.S. $1.19 billion to settle criminal and civil charges for illegally shipping telecommunications equipment to Iran and North Korea.

Stipulations of Original Agreement Required 7-Year Sanctions to Be Imposed for Violations
Along with the required payment of $1.9 billion in 2017, a seven-year export ban was applied, as stipulated by the agreement. However, the 7-year sanction was lifted and suspended, on the condition of no further violations by the Chinese company.

When U.S. regulators found that ZTE was once again in violation of the agreement, the seven-year ban was imposed as promised.

Trump Administration Lifts 7-Year Sanctions to Offer ZTE a “Do-Over”
On May 13, 2018, President Trump tweeted "too many jobs in China" were being lost  because of the penalty suffered by ZTE for their twice violation of agreements.  Trump then set his administration to the task of relieving the company of the consequence of their violations.

Only Minor Changes from Original Agreement Violated by ZTE
On June 6, 2018, U.S. Commerce Secretary Ross announced a “do-over”  --- ZTE would once again pay a $1 billion fine, reopen its company to U.S. regulators, and change its board of directors and executive team --- per the original agreement.  However, with this new agreement, the company is also required to set aside $400 million in escrow to cover any future violations.