Korea Crisis Countdown Timeline
The period of maximum probability of deliberate American military action against North Korea came and passed in early 2003. Subsequently, the probability of military action declined substantially, and appeared entirely unthinkable to the South Korean government, and nearly so to the American government. The possibility of a crisis involving military forces became thinkable once again in August 2008, upon rumors of serious illness of Kim-jong Il.
In early 2003 the United States faced the unpalatable choices of either accepting North Korea as a nuclear power, which would jeopardize the entire nuclear non-proliferation regime and could trigger a nuclear arms race in northeast Asia, or resorting to military force to stop it. Analysts disagreed over why North Korea has resorted to nuclear brinkmanship. Some said it is simply a tool to bring the United States to the bargaining table, with the hopes of winning large aid packages and the relaxation of sanctions in exchange for disarmament. Others thought it was the tactic of a desperate and isolated state determined to become a nuclear power. This later argument became more persuasive over time.
In early 2003 the UN nuclear watchdog agency warned there was enough spent fuel at Yongbyon to make at least three nuclear bombs within months. The North's defense minister, Kim Il Chol, said that "U.S. hawks" were "pushing the situation on the Korean Peninsula to the brink of a nuclear war."
The timing of possible military action by the United States against North Korea was uncertain. One long-standing "red line" forcing function was thought to be indications that North Korea had begun reprocessing spent fuel to extract more plutonium to fabricate additional nuclear weapons. Although the North Korean government claimed to have "almost completed" reproccessing, the United States intelligence community did not initially appear to have independently confirmed such claims. Some US officials are reported to believe the North has encountered technical problems in reprocessing. Chinese, Japanese and Russian officials have reportedly indicated that they could not confirm any reprocessing.
Unlike the Clinton Administration, the Bush had not declared a clear "red line" on reprocessing, which would mean nearly immediate military strikes on Yongbyon and related facilities if the North starts accumulating bomb-grade plutonium. During the second quarter of 2003 American air forces were poised to take military action against North Korean nuclear facilities within a few hours of a decision to do so. But in June 2003 these forces returned to their home bases, reflecting changed US strategy.
On 20 July 2003 it was reported ["North Korea Hides New Nuclear Site, Evidence Suggests" by David E. Sanger and Thom Shanker New York Times] that US intelligence officials believe that North Korea may have a second facility that could produce weapons-grade plutonium. The second facility is believed to be buried underground at an unknown location. Sensors on North Korea's borders have begun to detect elevated levels of krypton-85, a gas emitted as spent fuel is converted into plutonium, but the gas is not coming from North Korea's main nuclear plant at Yongbyon. Instead the gas may be coming from another hidden facility. North Korea is believed to have 11-15,000 underground military-industrial facilities.
Thus it appears that North Korea had passed the reprocessing "red line" established by the Clinton Administration, without provoking a military strike by the Bush Administration.
In December 2002 North Korea took a series of steps to restart its nuclear facilities, which were shut down under the 1994 pact with Washington. In exchange, North Korea was to receive the two light water reactors and annual shipments of fuel oil. But after Pyongyang told US officials in October 2002 that it had a secret program to enrich uranium, which could be used to make nuclear weapons, Washington and its allies halted the oil shipments.
16 December 2002
On 16 December 2002 Secretary of State Colin Powell assured North Korea that the United States has no intention of attacking that country. But he rejected the idea of a non-aggression treaty, which Pyongyang is demanding to settle the crisis over its nuclear weapons program. ''The United States will not enter into dialogue in response to threats or broken commitments,'' Powell said. ''We will not bargain or offer inducements for North Korea to live up to the treaties and agreements it has signed.''
27 December 2002
According to reports in the South Korean media, in late December 2002 North Korea had notified the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that it will commence operating its 5MW reactor at Yongbyon within five months. The North was bringing in fresh fuel rods, and was expected to complete this task in about two weeks. About 8,000 rods were needed to operate the reactor and as of 27 December 2002 only about 1,500 had been moved to it. Pyongyang was expected to begin loading the reactor shortly.
06 January 2003
The Bush Administration may allow the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to take the lead on North Korea, and call for a meeting of the UN Security Council to discuss the crisis. The IAEA's board of governors is expected to meet Jan. 6 to discuss North Korea.
06-07 January 2003
The trilateral meeting between South Korea, the United States and Japan in Washington is part of the allies' regular forum for coordinating policy toward the communist North. A joint statement on North Korea was issued January 7 by South Korea, Japan and the United States following two days of talks in Washington. The joint statement said that North Korea's relations with the entire international community hinge on its taking prompt and verifiable action to completely dismantle its nuclear weapons program and to come into full compliance with its international nuclear commitments.
10 January 2003
North Korea announced that it is pulling out of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty immediately and will not let UN nuclear inspectors back into the country. In 1993, North Korea also announced that it was withdrawing from the treaty, but later suspended the decision and entered talks with the United States. The result was their Agreed Framework accord.
18 January 2003
South Korean President-elect Roh Moo-hyun intends to unveil his compromise plan in hopes the crisis can be defused before he takes office 25 February 2003. As of early January the president-elect's ideas were expected to be offered in about two weeks. One proposal may be for the North to give up its nuclear program, in exchange for US guarantees for North Korea's security.
21 January 2003
North Korea has says it will hold high-level talks with South Korea, but a week later than offered. Pyongyang told Seoul on 09 January that it wanted to push back bilateral cabinet-level discussions to January 21st, one week after dates proposed by the South. South Korea's Unification Ministry said the North gave no reason for the request. The meeting will be the ninth of its kind since the two countries held a summit in June 2000.
05 February 2003
North Korea says it has restarted its nuclear facilities at Yongbyon, adding to the controversy over the country's nuclear ambitions. For now, North Korea says, the plant will be used to make electricity. Pyongyang's announcement comes less than a week after U-S news reports said North Korea may be removing spent fuel rods from Yongbyon as a first step toward resuming its nuclear weapons program. [NORTH KOREA - BUILDING BOMBS? ]
07 February 2003
The Bush administration decision to put U.S. bombers on alert in the Pacific is simply a matter of reinforcing U.S. deterrence against any possible North Korean military action, says Paul Wolfowitz, deputy secretary of defense. [Wolfowitz Calls Bomber Alert a "Deterrent" Against North Korea]
12 February 2003
Expressing deep concern that the Democratic Republic of Korea (DPRK) has rejected efforts at dialogue and is now in further non-compliance with international nuclear safeguards, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) today decided to report the matter to the United Nations Security Council and the General Assembly. The executive board of the International Atomic Energy Agency, which met in early January 2003, had been expected to give the North one month to allow for the return of the nuclear inspectors. But a decision was made not to impose a strict deadline for compliance. On 06 January 2003 IAEA director ElBaradei said he expected North Korea to meet with UN officials immediately and to comply with its obligations under international accords in a matter of weeks. If this failed, the IAEA would to take the case to the UN Security Council, which would represent a worsening of the crisis. [DPR of Korea: IAEA reports nuclear issue to UN Security Council, Assembly]
26 February 2003
US officials say North Korea has apparently restarted a reactor at its Yongbyon nuclear complex. The State Department says the move, reported by U-S intelligence sources, is the latest in a series of "provocative actions" by North Korea that challenge the international community. [U-S-KOREA NUCLEAR ] As of 26 December 2002 the IAEA reportedly estimated that North Korea will have the five-megawatt reactor operational by the end of February 2003. A senior South Korean official concurred with that estimate. "We believe it will take one or two months to restart the reactor," said the official, Chun Young Woo, director general for international institutions at the Foreign Ministry.
04 March 2003
The United States and South Korea began two exercises on March 4. The exercises, Reception, Staging, Onward movement, and Integration (RSOI) and Foal Eagle involve Combined Forces Command units. North Korea stated in mid-February that if these exercises were to take place that the DPRK would withdraw from the Armistice Agreement.
31 March 2003
The State Department received information in New York on March 31st that North Korea had made another threat about reprocessing its fuel rods, but this was closely held within the State Department.
07 April 2003
North Korea dropped its demand for a non-aggression treaty with the United States, stating that "The Iraqi war shows that to allow disarming through inspection does not help avert a war but rather sparks it... This suggests that even the signing of a non-aggression treaty with the U.S. would not help avert a war." [Statement of fm spokesman blasts UNSC's discussion of Korean nuclear issue]
10 April 2003
North Korea's three month waiting period to withdraw from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty expired on 10 April, but questions on its status remain. Japan says it still considers Pyongyang to be bound by the terms of the international pact because it did not follow proper procedures to quit
18 April 2003
North Korea said it is successfully reprocessing thousands of spent fuel rods at its main nuclear plant. The news, reported by the official Korean Central News Agency, came only days before planned international talks on North Korea's nuclear moves. [NORKOR/NUCLEAR]
23-25 April 2003
Multilateral talks on North Korea's nuclear development program were held April 23-25 in Beijing. North Korea claimed to have reprocessed all the eight-thousand spent fuel rods from the Yongbyon reactor complex it reopened last year, in violation of international commitments. But that action, which would provide North Korea with enough plutonium to build several nuclear bombs, has not been confirmed by other sources. The North Korean proposal was essentially a compilation of previous demands for security guarantees, diplomatic recognition and aid after the delivery of which Pyongyang would undertake to end its nuclear program and possibly also its ballistic missile efforts. Instead of trying to ease tensions, North Korean negotiators ratcheted them up. They declared that the communist regime of Kim Jong-Il not only possesses nuclear weapons, it might test or sell the weapons around the world.
5 May 2003
The Bush administration denied shifting its policy on North Korea's nuclear program to focus on preventing that country from exporting nuclear weapons or material. Secretary of State Colin Powell says the U-S goal remains the elimination of North Korea's weapons program. The comments were prompted by a New York Times report that the administration has tacitly accepted the North Korean weapons program, and has shifted its focus to organizing international support for blocking nuclear exports by that country. [U-S-NORTH KOREA]
6 May 2003
The USS Kitty Hawk and elements of her Carrier Strike Group returned to Yokosuka following a deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The Kitty Hawk will enter the yard for an extended overhaul which will make it unavailable for deployment until October or November 2003.
21 May 2003
On or about May 21 Junichiro Koizumi, the Prime Minister of Japan, announced that his government is prepared to take preemptive military action against states that intend to or are threatening to attack Japan. [The Japanese parliament passed three pieces of legislation on May 15, referred to as Emergencies Legislation, that increased the governments ability to prepare for war. This legislation went into force on June 6.]
31 May 2003
Most if not all of the B-1Bs and B-52s that had been sent to Andersen Air Force Base in Guam had returned to the United States without being replaced by additional aircraft.
31 May 2003
President Bush announced during a speech in Poland the establishment of the Proliferation Security Initiative that would seek to prevent the proliferation of WMD and missile technology to rogue states. The plan would be implemented with the aid of allied nations and would include boarding and inspecting suspected ships and aircraft. While the speech did not mention North Korea the initiative would impact DPRK exports of missiles. No timeframe for the initiative were disclosed.
09 June 2003
Japan begins actively inspecting North Korean vessels docking at its port justifying the searches as safety inspections.
12 June 2003
Richard Perle, former chairman and now member of the Pentagon's Defence Policy Board, publicly questioned Powell's strategy of isolating North Korea. "Whether we can effectively mobilize a coalition - including China, Russia, the South Koreans, the Japanese, ourselves - and so isolate them that they will abandon this program, that remains to be seen.... That's certainly the preferable way to deal with it." Perle suggested that a military attack may be needed. "I don't think anyone can exclude a kind of surgical strike that we saw in 1981 when the Israelis destroyed the Osirik reactor [in Iraq], because they knew that if that reactor went unmolested it would eventually produce nuclear weapons... We should always be prepared to go it alone, if necessary," Perle said.
15 June 2003
The Madrid Initiative is established by eleven states. This initiative which is based on the concepts presented by President Bush at the G8 meeting is designed to prevent North Korea from transporting WMD and missile technology via ship or airplane.
25 June 2003
Fifty-three years ago the Korean War began at 0400 hours, Sunday, June 25, 1950, when north Korean Communists launched an unprovoked, all-out attack along the whole length of the 38th parallel.
Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz announced on May 31 that the United States would begin deploying additional combat soldiers to South Korea during the Summer of 2003. This deployment would consist of a Stryker Brigade that would be rotated into the country. This would increase the number of soldiers on the Peninsula by roughly 2,000 personnel.
01 July 2003
The plutonium reprocessing plant at Yongbyon could be ready to begin producing fissile material for bombs within a few months, according to the director general of the IAEA. By taking possession of the 8,000 spent fuel rods in late December 2002, the North could have produced as many as half a dozen plutonium-based bombs in as little as six months -- by late June 2003. On 29 December 2002, US Secretary of State Colin Powell said "if they ... start to reprocess the spent fuel that is at the facility, they could have another several nuclear weapons in a matter of, let's say, six months. "
08 July 2003
The 80th Fighter Squadron demonstrates its capability to use Joint Direct Attack Munitions. The first time an F-16 Block 30 has demonstrated such a capability.
17 July 2003
On the morning of July 17 North and South Korean soldiers echanged machine-gun fire near Yonchon, 35 miles north of Seoul. No ROKA casualties were reported.
A story in the New York Times on July 20, 2003 reported that US intelligence officials believe that North Korea may have a second facility that could produce weapons-grade plutonium. The second facility is believed to be buried underground at an unknown location. The story, "North Korea Hides New Nuclear Site, Evidence Suggests" by David E. Sanger and Thom Shanker New York Times reported that sensors on North Korea's borders have begun to detect elevated levels of krypton-85, a gas emitted as spent fuel is converted into plutonium. The report says the issue that most concerns American and Asian officials, though, is analysis showing that the gas is not coming from North Korea's main nuclear plant, Yongbyon. Instead, the experts believe the gas may be coming from another hidden facility, buried deep in the mountains. North Korea is believed to have 11-15,000 underground military-industrial facilities.
27 July 2003
After three years, one month and two days, combat ended in Korea as the armistice was signed at Panmunjom on July 27, 1953. Signed at 1000, it became effective at 2200 on the same day. Korea remains in an armistice status without a formal peace treaty to this day. Sergeant Harold R. Cross, K Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Regimental Combat Team, was killed by a mortar blast at 2040, the last American soldier killed in action in the Korean War.
According to news reports on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the end of the Korean War, diplomatic sources in Tokyo told Reuters news agency that the North was ready to declare itself a member of the nuclear club, opening the way for tests and increased production of weapons, unless the nuclear crisis is resolved by 09 September 2003, the anniversary of North Korea's founding. A North Korean official told US envoy Jack Pritchard , "If the United States continues its policy of pressure against us, we may be forced to take opposing measures, such as, for example, a nuclear test." The exchange took place in a a North Korean official in a meeting in New York between officials from the two nations earlier in July 2003.
08 August 2003
On August 8, 2003 the South Korea Navy fired warning shots at two North Korean "tugboats" that had crossed the Northern Line.
08 August 2003
On August 08, 2003 officials in Taiwan boarded a North Korean vessel carrying unidentified chemicals believed to be used in rocket fuel. The Be Gaehung was docked in Kaohsiung Harbor.
11 August 2003
On August 11, 2003 officials in Taiwan seized the chemicals present on the Be Gaehung. The North Korean captain allowed the ship to be boarded and allowed the chemicals to be offloaded, which were then confiscated.
12 August 2003
On August 12, 2003 representatives from Russia and North and South Korea are to meet in Moscow to conduct talks in preparation for the six-party talks scheduled for later in August.
18 August 2003
Exercise Ulchi-Focus Lens '03 begins.
19 August 2003
Officials in Seoul say warning shots were fired after a North Korean fishing boat entered disputed waters along the western sea border on August 19. The South Korean military says the boat turned back after the shots were fired.
27-29 August 2003
On July 31, 2003 it was announced that North Korea would be willing to hold meetings with the United States, Japan, South Korea, China, and Russia and discuss North Korea's nuclear program. This was a major development as the North Koreans had been insisting upon bilateral negotiations. Early indications were that the Administration and the other nations would look for an early Septmber meeting but the Los Angeles Times reported on August 10, 2003 that a Chinese envoy had announced that the talks would take place in Beijing in late August with the specific date still to be worked out. Beijing announced on August 14 that the six-way talks would begin on August 27 and end on August 29.
29 August 2003
Exercise Ulchi-Focus Lens '03 ends.
30 August 2003
The USS Carl Vinson and elements of its Carrier Strike Group were scheduled to make a port call at Pusan, ROK on or about August 30. Despite a Navy document indicating that the port of call had taken place, sources indicate that the event never did occur and that the Vinson and elements of her strike group remain in the Sea of Japan/East Sea. This port call was originally scheduled for August 27 but was delayed on August 26 due to the 6 Party Talks in Beijing.
01 September 2003
The USS Carl Vinson and elements of its Carrier Strike Group begin to depart the Sea of Japan/East Sea area preparing to return to the United States, ending their deployment. The USS Nimitz and its strike group have been tasked to replace the Carl Vinson and will remain in the area until the USS Kitty Hawk completes extensive yard work.
09 September 2003
September 9 is the 55th anniversary of the founding of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. It is thought by some that the North Korean government might use this symbolic event to demonstrate a nuclear capability. A report by Reuters on July 26, 2003 seems to bolster this theory as an un-identified North Korean source stated that North Korea could conduct a nuclear test by Septmber 9, 2003 if the United States "continues its policy of pressure..." towards North Korea. At the Six Party Talks on August 28, 2003 various news reports indicated that the North Korean envoy had stated that North Korea was prepared to openly declare itself a nuclear power and to demonstrate such a capability through a nuclear test. Other reports indicated that a new missile would be displayed at the military parade that traditionally occurs on the 9th. However, no military vehicles of any kind were displayed.
20 October 2003
Various news agencies report that North Korean conducted anti-ship missile tests on Monday October 20, 2003. The reports did not indicate specifically state what type of missile was fired but that it was the same one fired in previous tests. Sources within the South Korean Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff indicated that the missile tests were conducted during North Korea's annual exercises.
The USS Kitty Hawk should complete her yard time and be available to deploy in support of contingency operations. The Kitty Hawk was due to come out of dry dock in November 2003, but in late August indications were that the repairs had run into complications that would delay the ability of the Kitty Hawk to return to a surge capable status.
1 Dec 2003
The United States Navy plans on having 6+2 aircraft carriers at a surge and emergency surge status in the event that a regional crisis requires US military action or support.
17 Dec 2003
Analysts and diplomats speculated that the six-power [United States, China, South Korea, North Korea, Russia and Japan] talks could happen as early as December, but prospects for new talks before year-end remained uncertain. The regular Beijing-Pyongyang flight, which operates only on Tuesdays and Saturdays, plus the diplomatic schedule of Japan which will host an ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) summit meeting from Dec. 11-12, means the talks will most likely be held on Dec. 17. By mid-December 2003 is became increasingly unlikely that a second round of six-party talks on the crisis would be held before the end of the year.
26 December 2003
South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun's end-of-year cabinet and Blue House staff shake-up demonstrated a significant shift in the make-up of his policy team amid ongoing investigations of political impropriety Of all the problems that President Roh is facing, perhaps most challenging is that of public confidence in light of ongoing campaign finance corruption scandals. Three of Roh's associates have been arrested. Despite the fact that Roh and his current administration is likely less corrupt than any previous administration, weak support from Parliament (both the GNP and his former MDP) leave the President susceptible to attack and criticism. A significant turnaround in South Korea's economic state and positive developments in the North Korean nuclear stand-off appear to be the only way for Roh to regain the public support he has lost, but both of those outcomes appear unlikely in the near term.
31 December 2003
North Korea might begin unloading fuel from the Yongbyon reactor by the end of the year, which might be the next overt "redline" threshold the could provoke US military action.
6-10 January 2004
North Korea invited the United States to send a team of nuclear experts to Yongbyon to visit the nuclear and reprocessing facilities there. The Bush Administration approved the plan. The unofficial US delegation gained access to North Korea's Yongbyon nuclear complex, but the delegates initially refused to provide any details on what they saw there. They said they first had to report to their respective headquarters in the United States. Delegation member Sig Hecker, a nuclear scientist, told reporters the group was taken to the Yongbyon facility.
The 3rd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division departs for the National Training Center at Fort Irwin where it will train against an opposing force using North Korean tactics and equipment. In previous NTC rotations, units have trained against opposing forces using Iraqi tactics and equipment, but the removal of the Iraqi threat has resulted in a refocusing on North Korea. Army officials interviewed by the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer on January 8, 2004 state that there are no plans to invade North Korea.
22 February 2004
The first three of six B-52H bombers arrived at Guam on a "routine deployment. The aircraft are from the 5th Bomb Wing, and will include some 300 airmen for support.
25 February 2004
A second round of six-party talks on the DPRK's nuclear weapons programs will open February 25th in Beijing.
22 March 2004
The United States and South Korea began two exercises on March 22. The exercises, Reception, Staging, Onward movement, and Integration (RSOI) and Foal Eagle involve Combined Forces Command units.
Roh announced another possible shake-up just prior to the April election, allowing him one more opportunity to change national security and foreign affairs positions should resolution of the North Korean nuclear crisis remain stalled.
15 April 2004
South Korea's Uri Party gained a resounding win in legislative elections. The victory signified a basic shift in South Korean politics to the left. But major questions remain about what the new Uri-dominated National Assembly will do in terms of policy. For the pro-reform Uri party, it was an overnight transformation. The party left the last National Assembly with just 49 seats. It enters the new one with 152 seats. The vote was widely seen as a stinging rebuke to the conservative Grand National Party, or GNP, which led the drive to impeach President Roh Moo-hyun in March 2004. President Roh was suspended from office for violating an election law. President Roh's impeachment is widely expected to be rejected by South Korea's constitutional court. It is not clear how the Uri majority will affect foreign policy, if at all. Uri leaders also say they will not deviate from allied policy on North Korea, including the insistence that Pyongyang dismantle its nuclear programs. Analysts do say, however, an Uri government is more likely to engage North Korea on economic matters than the party's conservative rivals.
19 April 2004
Kim Jong Il arrived in Beijing for a four day visit to consult with Chinese leaders on issues ranging from North Korea's nuclear program to the DPRK's economic woes.
23 April 2004
Two trains were involved in an accident at Ryongchon, near the border with China that involved either fuel or explosives that resulted in an explosion that destroyed significant portions of the area. Initial reports indicated that thousands were injured or killed.
12 May 2004
The first working-level meeting of the six countries trying to resolve the North Korean nuclear crisis will be held on May 12th. This working group meeting is preparing for the next plenary at the end of June.
14 May 2004
President Roh Moo-hyun resumed his official duties on May 14 by discussing pending issues with Prime Minister Goh Kun and senior presidential secretaries immediately after the Constitutional Court reversed his impeachment. Roh had his powers suspended when the opposition-controlled outgoing parliament voted to oust him March 12 on charges of illegal electioneering, corruption involving his aides and incompetence. The Constitutional Court overrode his opposition-driven impeachment, clearing the way for him to push forward with his shelved reform agenda. The president can now re-start his liberal administration after being in limbo for two months following a turbulent first year in office blighted by constant squabbling with the outgoing opposition-controlled parliament.
18 May 2004
The Department of Defense announced that it was redeploying the 2nd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division to Iraq to assist in the establishment of a stable regime in that country. The deployment would take place during the Summer of 2004, and would last for roughly one year. Roughly 4,000 soldiers would be involved in the deployment.
In late October warships from the US, Japan and other countries will conduct joint exercises in the Sea of Japan, as part of the Proliferation Security Initiative. This initiative is designed to prevent North Korea from exporting WMD-related items to other countries. Earlier exercises had been held at much greater distance from North Korea, like the Coral Sea off northern Australia. November 2004
With the placement of interceptor missiles in Alaska by late 2004 President Bush will fulfill his promise to American people. The timing coincides with the presidential election on 02 November 2004.
By late 2004 it appeared that the Bush Administration had decided to ignore North Korea, under the theory that the North Korean regime would collapse before provoking Japan to build nuclear weapons.
On 10 November 2004 the The Korea Times that the United States had set a "red line" Korea should not cross, and considering more coercive options in case it transfers nuclear materials to a third party. The US settled on a policy that would prompt strict measures against the North if it tries to hand over nuclear materials to a third nation or organization. A military strike could not be ruled out. The Bush Administration had previously refrained from setting a clear "red line" -- lest the North escalate its nuclear activities to just below the set level.
On 14 November 2004 South Korean President Roh Moo-Hyun told an audience in Los Angeles that "There is no alternative left in dealing with this issue except dialogue." The South Korean leader also denounced the idea of an economic embargo against Pyongyang. "Our commitment to a denuclearized Korean peninsula is ... clear. As to our position that North Korean nuclear capability can by no means be tolerated _ this issue must be resolved peacefully through the six-party talks," said Roh, referring to negotiations that involve both Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the United States.... "You might have noticed that I've been undutifully blunt and direct in terms of stressing that the fact there is no alternative left in dealing with this issue other than dialogue," added Roh, speaking through an interpreter. "And it should also be noted that a hard-line policy will have very grave repercussions and implications for the Korean peninsula." And a few days later the South Korean Defense Ministry announced that North Korea would no longer be designated as the "primary enemy" facing its military forces.
Writing in the Weekly Standard of 29 November 2004, Nicholas Eberstadt of the American Enterprise Institute suggested that "Diplomacy on the North Korean nuclear front may well fail -- in which case a variety of nondiplomatic alternatives must be at the ready. Paradoxically, however, preparing for the deliberate use of nonconsensual, non-diplomatic options with North Korea will actually increase the probability of a diplomatic success." [Tear Down This Tyranny : A Korea strategy for Bush's second term by Nicholas Eberstadt November 29, 2004, Volume 010, Issue 11].
29 January 2005
In January 2005 it was announced that the ROK MND will replace the controversial "main enemy" designation for Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) from the 2004 Defense White Paper, scheduled to be published on February 4th. DPRK will be described as a "military threat" instead of the main enemy, which has been used to refer to the DPRK in the paper since 1995. There was thought to be a need to tone down in light of the new security environment in Korean peninsula and relationships developing between ROK and DPRK. DPRK will still be referred to as the main enemy, however, in some training documents including military manuals for new conscripts.
October 9, 2006
On October 9, 2006, North Korea's Korean Central News Agency announced that it had successfully conducted an underground nuclear test. The test was reported to have taken place at 10:36AM, local time, in Hwaderi, near Kilju city, in North Hamkyung province. According to the KCNA statement, no radioactive leakage had taken place as a consequence of the test.
Media reports said thatKim Jong-Il, 66, had been operated on by doctors believed to be from China and France after suffering a stroke in mid-August 2008. South Korea's largest daily, Chosun Ilbo, suggested that Kim could have partial paralysis on one side of his body, although South Korean officials seemed to be convinced that he remained in full control of the secretive communist state. South Korean presidential spokesman, Lee Dong-kwan, said Kim "did not seem to be in a serious condition." Concern over Kim's health arose when he failed to appear at a military parade in Pyongyang marking the country's 60th anniversary on 08 September 2008. Lee Myung-Bak was elected to the Presidency of the Republic of Korea, and inaugurated on February 25, 2008. Lee Myung-Bak succeeded incumbent President Roh Moo-hyun to the presidency. President-elect Lee is a member of the Grand National Party, and defeated opposing candidates by achieving 48.7% of the vote. November 2008
Most American troops will be moved out of Seoul by the end of 2007, and all of the US 2nd Infantry Division that's currently patrolling the region north of Seoul will be moved south of Seoul by 2008. Existing military facilities at Osan Air Base and Camp Humphreys, both located south of Seoul, are being expanded and upgraded to accept the redeployed forces.
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