Timeline: N. Korea's Nuke Program

Published January 02, 2004

| FoxNews.com

A timeline on nuclear weapons development in North Korea:

--1993: North Korea shocks the world by saying it will quit the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, but it later suspends its withdrawal.

--1994: North Korea and U.S. sign nuclear agreement in Geneva. North Korea pledges to freeze and eventually dismantle its nuclear weapons program in exchange for international aid to build two power-producing nuclear reactors.

--August 1998: North Korea fires a multistage rocket that flies over Japan and lands in the Pacific Ocean, proving the Koreans can strike any part of Japan's territory.

--May 1999: Former Defense Secretary William Perry visits North Korea and delivers a U.S. disarmament proposal during four days of talks.

--September 1999: North Korea pledges to freeze testing of long-range missiles for the duration of negotiations to improve relations.

--Sept. 17, 1999: President Clinton agrees to the first significant easing of economic sanctions against North Korea since the Korean War ended in 1953.

--December 1999: A U.S.-led international consortium signs a $4.6 billion contract to build two safer, Western-developed light-water nuclear reactors in North Korea.

--July 2000: North Korea renews its threat to restart its nuclear program if Washington does not compensate for the loss of electricity caused by delays in building nuclear power plants.

--June 2001: North Korea warns it will reconsider its moratorium on missile tests if the Bush administration doesn't resume contacts aimed at normalizing relations.

--July 2001: State Department reports North Korea is going ahead with development of its long-range missile. A senior Bush administration official says North Korea has conducted an engine test of the Taepodong-1 missile.

--December 2001: President Bush warns Iraq and North Korea that they would be "held accountable" if they developed weapons of mass destruction "that will be used to terrorize nations."

--Jan. 29, 2002: Bush labels North Korea, Iran and Iraq an "axis of evil" in his State of the Union address. "By seeking weapons of mass destruction, these regimes pose a grave and growing danger," he says.

--October 2002: North Korean officials tell visiting U.S. delegation that the country has a second covert nuclear weapons program in violation of the 1994 agreement -- a program using enriched uranium. U.S. officials publicly reveal discovery of North Korea's nuclear weapons program.

--November 2002: The United States and its key Asian allies -- Japan and South Korea -- decide to halt oil supplies to North Korea promised under the 1994 deal.

--December 2002: North Korea announces that it is reactivating nuclear facilities at Yongbyon that were frozen under a 1994 deal with the United States. North Korea begins removing U.N. monitoring seals and cameras from its nuclear facilities.

--January 2003: North Korea warns that U.N. sanctions "mean a war." U.S. offered talks with Pyongyang but said it won't negotiation to halt nuke programs. North Korea says it will withdraw from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and dares the United States to engage it in a "fire-to-fire standoff."

--Jan. 24, 2003: North Korea agrees to work with South Korea to peacefully resolve the international standoff over Pyongyang's nuclear programs; U.S. envoys stepped up diplomatic efforts elsewhere. A top American diplomat visited Tokyo to strengthen international support for putting the issue before the U.N. Security Council.

--Feb. 5, 2003: North Korea says it has reactivated its nuclear facilities; U.S. State Department demanded the North "reverse this action ... North Korea must visibly, verifiably and irreversibly dismantle its nuclear weapons program." Pyongyang said the reactivated facilities would "for the present stage" be used only to produce electricity.

--Feb. 6, 2003: Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld calls the North Korean government a "terrorist regime" as Pyongyang warns that pre-emptive attacks on its nuclear facilities would trigger a "total war."

--Feb. 18, 2003: North Korea threatens to abandon the 1953 armistice that ended the Korean War if the United States goes ahead with alleged plans to impose a naval blockade and other steps as preparation for a pre-emptive attack.

--Feb. 26, 2003: It's discovered that North Korea restarted a reactor at its main nuclear complex. President Bush called Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss the crisis. White House spokesman Ari Fleischer says: "North Korea continues to put itself on a path that is provocative and isolationist, that sets itself back from other nations in the region and other nations in the world."

--March 7, 2003: President Bush says that nations with a direct stake in North Korea's nuclear arms capacity -- including China, South Korea, Japan and Russia -- need to unite in facing down its threat, saying negotiations aren't working enough.

--March 19, 2003: North Korea says it has the right to develop missiles, increasing fears it might resume test-launching long-range missiles while the United States is focused on Operation Iraqi Freedom. Pyongyang fired two short-range missiles off its east coast in the past weeks; the state-run newspaper said the North has a "sovereign right" to continue the missile program.

--March 22, 2003: U.N. envoy says North Korea is preparing for possible war with the United States and is concerned about Washington's intentions after its attack on Iraq.

 --March 26, 2003: North Korea cuts off the sole regular military contact with the U.S.-led U.N. Command that monitors the Korean War armistice, saying it was "meaningless" to sit with the Americans. South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun dismisses as "groundless" allegations by the North that U.S. forces may attack and spark a "second Iraqi crisis" on the Korean Peninsula.

--April 18, 2003: North Korea claims it's reprocessing more than 8,000 spent nuclear fuel rods, which U.S. experts says will make enough plutonium to make several atomic bombs.

--April 24, 2003: North Korea's lead official at nuclear weapons talks in China told Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly that his country has nuclear weapons and may test, export or use them depending on U.S. actions, a senior U.S. official said.

--May 12, 2003: North Korea says a 1992 agreement with South Korea to keep the Korean Peninsula free of nuclear weapons was nullified, citing a "sinister" U.S. agenda. The two Koreas in 1992 pledged to renounce hostilities and ban the development and deployment of nuclear weapons. It was the last remaining legal obligation under which North Korea was banned from developing atomic arms.

--June 2, 2003: North Korea tells American lawmakers it already has nuclear weapons and intends to build more.

--July 18, 2003: North Korea poses the "most immediate and most serious threat" to efforts to control the world's nuclear weapons, says Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

--August 1, 2003: North Korea agrees to multilateral talks after threat of U.N. economic sanctions. The next day, North Korea warns that any moves to discuss its suspected nuclear weapons programs at the United Nations would "hamstring" efforts for dialogue and be a "prelude to war."

--August 27, 2003: American and North Korean diplomats meet on the sidelines of six-nation talks about the nuclear program; a South Korean official said the North appeared "willing to resolve the nuclear issue through dialogue."

--August 29, 2003: The six nations trying to defuse a standoff over North Korea's nuclear program agree to keep talks open but predict obstacles ahead. North Korea's chief delegate, Vice Foreign Minister Kim Yong Il suggested his country was willing to abandon a nuclear weapons program in exchange for economic aid and a treaty with the United States.

--Sept. 11, 2003: U.S. officials say plutonium reprocessing activity at a key North Korean site has apparently ceased.

--Oct. 2, 2003: North Korea says it was using plutonium extracted from some 8,000 spent nuclear fuel rods to make atomic bombs.

--Dec. 8, 2003: U.S., Japan and South Korea offers plan to end standoff.

--Dec. 9, 2003: Pyongyang says it will freeze its nuclear weapons projects in return for the United States providing energy aid and removing it from a list of countries that sponsor terrorism. President Bush rejected the offer; the U.S. wants the program dismantled.

--Dec. 27, 2003: North Korea confirms that it is willing to hold talks with the United States and five other nations early next year on ending its nuclear weapons program.

--Jan. 2, 2004: South Korea says a U.S. delegation will visit North Korea's main nuclear facility at Yongbyon next week. The visit would be the first by outsiders  since North Korea kicked out U.N. nuclear inspectors in late 2002.