A timeline on nuclear weapons development in North Korea

North Korea shocks the world by quitting the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty amid suspicions that it is developing nuclear weapons.
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 31, 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.
November 17, 1998
The United States and North Korea hold the first round of high-level talks in Pyongyang over North Korea's suspected construction of an underground nuclear facility. The United States demands inspections.
February 27-March 16, 1999
During a fourth round of talks, North Korea allows U.S. access to the site in exchange for promises of food. U.S. inspectors find no evidence of any nuclear activity during visit to site in May.
May 25-28, 1999
Former Defense Secretary William Perry visits North Korea and delivers a U.S. disarmament proposal during four days of talks.
September 13, 1999
North Korea pledges to freeze testing of long-range missiles for the duration of negotiations to improve relations.
September 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 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."
April 6, 2002
North Korea agrees to revive stalled dialogue with Washington and South Korea and is willing to hold talks with an American envoy.
August 14, 2002
South and North Korea agree to hold family reunions and resume contacts on a range of issues, signaling the resumption of their reconciliation process after months of tension.
January 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.
September 25, 2002
President Bush plans to send an envoy to North Korea, reopening security talks with the country for the first time in almost two years.
October 7, 2002
A senior Pentagon official presses the North Korean military for access to four Americans who defected from the U.S. Army in the 1960s and are living in Pyongyang.
October 13, 2002
North Korea warns that the United States' "hostile policy" toward the country was hurting efforts to recover the remains of U.S. soldiers missing from the 1950-53 Korean War.
October 16, 2002
North Korea tells U.S. officials it has developed a secret nuclear weapons program in violation of the 1994 agreement.
December 4, 2002
North Korea rejects the IAEA call to allow inspections, saying the U.N. nuclear watchdog was abetting U.S. policy toward the North.
December 12, 2002
North Korea announces it plans to immediately restart the Yongbyon reactor to generate electricity to make up for the cutoff of fuel oil shipments.
December 21, 2002
The IAEA says North Korea has disabled surveillance devices the agency had placed at the five-megawatt Yongbyon research reactor.
December 22, 2002
North Korea says it has begun removing IAEA monitoring equipment from Yongbyon, drawing condemnation from the United States, South Korea, Japan and France.
December 27, 2002
North Korea tells the IAEA its inspectors are no longer needed at Yongbyon and orders their expulsion.
December 31, 2002
U.N. nuclear inspectors leave North Korea.
January 3, 2003
North Korea blames United States for nuclear standoff but says it is willing to hold talks.
January 6, 2003
IAEA gives North Korea one last chance to readmit inspectors or be reported to the U.N. Security Council for breaching nuclear safeguards. Bush says dialogue with North will happen.
January 7, 2003
North Korea says economic sanctions would mean war and urges United States to sit down to talks.
January 10, 2003
North Korea announces it will withdraw from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
February 5, 2003
North Korea announces that it had reactivated its nuclear facilities and is going ahead with their operation "on a normal footing."
February 12, 2003
IAEA holds emergency meeting to refer standoff to the UN Security Council.
February 27, 2003
The United States says North Korea has reactivated its five-megawatt nuclear reactor at Yongbyon.
April 16, 2003
The United States will talk with North Korea as early as next week in a meeting hosted by China about ending North Korea's suspected nuclear weapons program.
April 24, 2003
Nuclear talks in Beijing ended Friday after U.S. officials said North Korea claimed to have nuclear weapons and might test, export or use them
May 12, 2003
North Korea backs out of the only remaining legal obligation blocking its nuclear ambitions, a 1992 pact with South Korea to keep the peninsula free of nuclear weapons. The North's official news agency cites a "sinister" U.S. agenda as the reason.
June 9, 2003
North Korea says publicly that it will build a nuclear deterrent, "unless the US gives up its hostile policy".
August 27-29, 2003
Six-nation talks in Beijing on North Korea's nuclear programme. The meeting fails to bridge the gap between Washington and Pyongyang. Delegates agree to meet again.
October 2, 2003
North Korea announces publicly it has reprocessed the spent fuel rods.
December 9, 2003
North Korea offers to "freeze" its nuclear programme in return for a list of concessions from the US. It says that unless Washington agrees, it will not take part in further talks.
The US rejects North Korea's offer. President George W Bush says Pyongyang must dismantle the programme altogether.
December 27, 2003
North Korea says it will take part in a new round of six-party talks on its nuclear program in early 2004.
January 10, 2004
The unofficial US team visits what the North calls its "nuclear deterrent" facility at Yongbyon.
January 22, 2004
US nuclear scientist Siegfried Hecker tells Congress that the delegates visiting Yongbyon were shown what appeared to be weapons-grade plutonium, but he did not see any evidence of a nuclear bomb.
February 25, 2004
Second round of six nation talks end without breakthrough in Beijing.
May 23, 2004
The UN atomic agency is reported to be investigating allegations that North Korea secretly sent uranium to Libya when Tripoli was trying to develop nuclear weapons.
June 23, 2004
Third round of six nation talks held in Beijing, with the US making a new offer to allow North Korea fuel aid if it freezes then dismantles its nuclear program.
July 24,2004
North Korea rejects US suggestions that it follow Libya's lead and give up its nuclear ambitions, calling the US proposal a "daydream".
August 16, 2004
North Korea says it will not attend a working meeting ahead of the next round of six-party talks on its controversial nuclear program, saying the US was "not interested in making the dialogue fruitful".
September 28, 2004
North Korea says it has turned plutonium from 8,000 spent fuel rods into nuclear weapons. Speaking at the UN General Assembly, Vice Foreign Minister Choe Su-hon said the weapons were needed for "self-defence" against "US nuclear threat".
February 10, 2005
Pyongyang officially said for the first time that it possesses nuclear weapons and suspends any further six-party talks.
April 18, 2005
South Korea says North Korea has shut down its Yongbyon reactor, a move which could allow it to extract more fuel for nuclear weapons.
May 1, 2005
North Korea fires a short-range missile into the Sea of Japan, on the eve of a meeting of members of the international Non-Proliferation Treaty.
July 25, 2005
Fourth round of six-nation talks begins in Beijing.
August 7, 2005
After meeting for 13 straight days, diplomats from the U.S., the two Koreas, China, Japan and Russia decide to take a recess from talks. Prospects for a deal on scrapping North Korea's nuclear program are uncertain. Pyongyang hints at compromise after saying it may be willing to offer proof that it does not have a uranium-based weapons program. Talks are put on hold until September.
September 13, 2005
North Korea and the U.S. remain at odds as talks resume, after Pyongyang reiterates its demands to maintain a civilian nuclear program. North Korea agrees to give up its entire nuclear program, including weapons, in return for aid and security guarantees. Later, North Korea says it will only do so if the U.S. provides a light-water reactor for civilian power. The U.S. and Russia reject Pyongyang's demand.
September 19, 2005
North Korea pledges to dismantle nuclear programs in exchange for pledges of energy assistance; U.S. pledges not to invade and to respect North's sovereignty in an agreement ending talks.
September 20, 2005
North Korea says it will not scrap its nuclear program until it is given a civilian nuclear reactor, undermining the joint statement and throwing further talks in doubt.
November 9-11, 2005
Fifth round of six-nation talks.
November 2005
The talks hit an impasse after North Korea is angered by U.S. financial restrictions against banks and North Korean companies for their alleged involvement in currency counterfeiting and other illicit activities.
January 3, 2006
North Korea says it won’t return to talks unless the U.S. lifts financial restrictions imposed for its alleged currency counterfeiting and other illegal activities.
July 5, 2006
North Korea test-fires six missiles, including a long-range Taepodong-2 rocket believed capable of reaching western United States. Taepodong rocket fails after 40 seconds, but U.S. denounces tests as "provocative."
October 3, 2006
North Korea says it will conduct a nuclear test in the face of what it claimed was "the U.S. extreme threat of a nuclear war."
October 9, 2006
North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reports the country has performed a successful underground nuclear test.
May 25, 2008
Russia's Defense Ministry confirmed an atomic explosion at 9:54 a.m. (0054 GMT) in northeastern North Korea, estimating the blast's yield at 10 to 20 kilotons - comparable to the bombs that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

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