Just the Facts

Five Facts on U.S. - North Korea Relations

By Emma Petasis
May 29, 2019 | Blog

Tension between North Korea and the U.S. is once again flaring up over a purported missile test by the North Koreans. Here are the facts on U.S. – North Korea relations over the years.

1. U.S. – North Korea tension dates back to the 1950s Korean War.

Korea divided into two countries – North and South – after the end of World War II. The Korean War started on June 25, 1950 between the Soviet-backed North which attacked with the aim of unifying the peninsula, and the U.S.-backed South. American troops entered in July on South Korea’s behalf, and against the forces of international communism. Combat ended in July of 1953, but the Korean peninsula remains divided today with the U.S. and North Korea still formally at war.[1]

2. North Korea developed nuclear weapons in an effort to deter a U.S. attack after the war.

PBS writes that when President Harry Truman announced there was “active consideration” of the use of an atomic bomb during the Korean War, North Korea assumed that Washington could attack at any time and wipe them out. This compelled North Korea’s first leader Kim Il Sung to launch a crash nuclear program as a deterrent. The North Koreans are believed to have completed the construction of their first nuclear warhead in the early 1980s.[3]

3. The Agreed Framework in 1994 was signed by the U.S. and North Korea.

In October 1994 during the Clinton administration, the U.S. and North Korea both sign the Agreed Framework which committed North Korea to freeze its plutonium weapons and halt their nuclear reactor construction in exchange for sanctions relief and aid. The Framework collapsed in 2002 when President George W. Bush stated that the United States would not certify North Korea’s compliance with the 1994 agreement and would characterize the country as part of an “axis of evil” with Iraq and Iran. North Korea admitted to violating the agreement and reactivated its nuclear plant. North Korea was added to the list of state sponsors of terrorism by the U.S.[4]

4. There have been multiple attempts at agreements, and all deals have fallen apart.

Following their violation of the Agreed Framework, North Korea would only briefly suspend their nuclear operations in exchange for aid from the U.S. This deal would later fall apart after ballistic missiles are launched at a parade, and the North’s program would advance.[5]

5. President Trump was the first U.S. president to meet with the leader of North Korea.

The first summit took place in June 2018 for negotiations about North Korea’s nuclear program and concluded with both leaders signing an agreement pledging to pursue peace, and work to denuclearize the peninsula. The second summit collapsed in February without an agreement after the two leaders could not agree on a denuclearization plan.[6]

For our Five Facts on the earlier Hanoi Summit between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, click HERE.







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