Here is a brief timeline of important events in U.S.–North Korean diplomatic history, focusing on security and arms control:

1985

People, some in uniform, on platform high above river (© Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service/AP Images)
In September 1985, North Korea’s leader Kim Il Sung (left) and his son Kim Jong Il (fourth from left) review the construction of the West Sea Dam in Nampho, North Korea. (© Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service/AP Images)

North Korea ratifies the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in December. Under this multilateral agreement, countries commit to halt the spread of nuclear weapons and technology and promote peaceful cooperation on nuclear energy.

1992

Two Korean leaders shaking hands across table (© Asahi Shumbun/Getty Images)
North Korean Prime Minister Yon Hyong Muk (left) and South Korean Prime Minister Chung Won-shik exchange agreement documents on May 7, 1992, in Seoul, South Korea. (© Asahi Shimbun/Getty Images)

North Korea and South Korea agree to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula. The treaty bans nuclear weapons and commits both countries to use nuclear energy only for peaceful purposes.

 

1993

Kang Sok Ju speaking into microphones (© Jim Cooper/AP Images)
North Korea’s Vice Foreign Minister Kang Sok Ju in New York City on June 11, 1993, where he announced that his country would not withdraw from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty after all. (© Jim Cooper/AP Images)

North Korea rejects inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency and announces its intent to leave the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

It later suspends its withdrawal from the treaty after talks with U.S. diplomats in New York. The first inspections in North Korea end up taking place in March 1994.

1994

Jimmy Carter and Kim Il Sung sitting together, people behind them (© Korean Central News Agency/AP Images)
North Korea’s President Kim Il Sung (front, right) sits with former President Jimmy Carter in June 1994. (© Korean Central News Agency/AP Images)

Jimmy Carter travels to North Korea in June and meets with Kim Il Sung, the country’s founder and leader. Carter is the first former U.S. president to visit North Korea. His trip lays the groundwork for a U.S.-North Korea agreement.

In October, the United States and North Korea sign the “Agreed Framework.” North Korea agrees to freeze construction of nuclear reactors and production of plutonium in exchange for aid, fuel shipments and other benefits.

2000

Man and woman toasting with champagne glasses (© Chien-Min Chung/AFP/Getty Images)
North Korean leader Kim Jong Il toasts Secretary of State Madeleine Albright at a dinner in Pyongyang in October 2000. (© Chien-Min Chung/AFP/Getty Images)

The United States and North Korea alternate as hosts for goodwill trips. In October, North Korean senior military official Jo Myong Rok visits President Bill Clinton in Washington.

Later that month, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright flies to Pyongyang and meets with North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Il, to try to expand the Agreed Framework and prepare a potential visit by Clinton. The two sides do not reach agreement on a visit or new deals.

2003 – 2007

Revolutionary figures depicted on placards held together (© David Guttenfelder/AP Images)
Thousands of North Koreans turn cards to form an image of revolutionary figures during a “mass games” performance at a stadium in Pyongyang on September 19, 2008. (© David Guttenfelder/AP Images)

Several rounds of the Six-Party Talks, involving the United States, North Korea, South Korea, Japan, China, and Russia, take place after North Korea’s withdrawal from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty in 2003.

Little progress occurs until February 2007, when North Korea agrees to shut down its nuclear facilities in exchange for fuel aid and measures aimed at normalizing its relations with the U.S. and Japan.

2009

Six men in suits with hands held together (© Ng Han Guan/Reuters)
The heads of six delegations meet in Beijing on August 27, 2003, before talks on North Korea’s nuclear program. The delegates, from left to right, represent Japan, the United States, North Korea, China, Russia, and South Korea. (© Ng Han Guan/Reuters)

The Six-Party Talks end after North Korea holds an announced missile launch, a move condemned unanimously by the United Nations Security Council.

In response to the U.N.’s condemnation, North Korea pulls out of the Six-Party Talks and says it will not be bound by any agreement reached at the talks. North Korea expels nuclear inspectors and informs International Atomic Energy Agency officials that it will resume its nuclear weapons program.

2009 – 2018

Kim Jong Un clapping, soldiers behind him (© David Guttenfelder/AP Images)
North Korea’s new leader Kim Jong Un, second from left, applauds in Pyongyang after reviewing a parade of thousands of soldiers commemorating the 70th birthday of the late Kim Jong Il in 2012. (© David Guttenfelder/AP Images)

Since exiting the Six-Party Talks, North Korea has at times said it will take steps toward denuclearization. But it continues to conduct tests in violation of international law, including three nuclear tests and over 40 ballistic-missile launches from 2016 to 2017.

 

 

 

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