Solving the North Korean Nuclear Puzzle: Appendix 5

Appendix 5: Chronology of Events Related to the U.S.-North Korean Agreed Framework

Compiled by Holly Higgins

Note: The end notes to this chronology can be found here

Additional pages:


[Notes for June - December 1998] June 1998

June 16: North Korea declared that it will continue to develop, test, and export ballistic missiles, officially acknowledging for the first time a clandestine missile export program.1

August 1998 Mid-Aug: Press reports revealed that U.S. intelligence sources had discovered an underground site in North Korea located northwest of Yongbyon. The site, known as Kumchang-ni, was thought to house a nuclear reactor, reprocessing facility, or some other type of nuclear facility.2

Aug. 31: North Korea test-fired a multi-stage Taepo Dong-1 ballistic missile over the main Japanese island of Honshu. In describing the test, North Korea reported that it had launched a satellite into orbit via a multi-stage rocket.

October 1998

Oct. 19: As a condition for continued funding for the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO), the U.S. Congress required President Clinton to appoint, by January 1, 1999, a senior envoy to review the administration’s North Korea policy.3

November 1998

Nov. 12: President Clinton appointed former Defense Secretary William Perry as the North Korea Policy Coordinator.


January 1999
[Notes for January 1999] [back to the top]

Jan. 4: A Japanese Defense Agency report stated that North Korea may have deployed medium-range ballistic missiles and constructed several launch facilities. The report also stated it was very probable that North Korea had fully developed and deployed its Nodong-1 ballistic missile.4

Jan. 19: The fourth plenary of the Four Party Talks began in Geneva, chaired by North Korea. The parties agreed upon procedures for two working groups to address tension reduction and replacing the armistice with a peace regime.5

Jan. 22: The director of the Japanese Foreign Ministry’s North Korean division demanded the end of North Korea’s ballistic missile tests in a meeting with North Korea’s deputy head of the UN mission in New York.6

February 1999[Notes for February 1999] [back to the top]

Feb. 8: The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) announced that North Korea "will never give up" its "sovereign right" to build and launch missiles.7

Feb. 17: The Japanese Defense Agency said that North Korea had the technological capability to launch a long-range ballistic missile that could reach parts of the United States.8

Feb. 25: South Korean President Kim Dae Jung proposed the "Sunshine Policy" to resolve all outstanding political, security and economic issues with North Korea. Under the package deal, North Korea would be expected to curb its development and deployment of missiles and end its suspected nuclear weapons program. In exchange, North Korea would receive food and economic aid and Washington would end trade sanctions and normalize diplomatic relations with North Korea.9

Feb. 27: The United States and North Korea resumed talks about U.S. access to Kumchang-ni. North Korea demanded one million tons of grain in exchange for U.S. access.10

March 1999[Notes for March 1999] [back to the top]

March 4-10: U.S. envoy William Perry traveled to Beijing, Seoul, and Tokyo as part of his review of U.S. policy toward North Korea.

March 9: President Kim Dae Jung and Perry agreed to continue pursuing economic and diplomatic engagement with North Korea while addressing concerns related to North Korea’s missile and nuclear development programs.11

March 17: The United States and North Korea agreed on Kumchang-ni access issues. The United States agreed to provide North Korea with food assistance. In return, North Korea agreed to grant the United States access to the entire site and to permit follow-up visits.12

March 20: President Kim Dae Jung and Japanese Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi met in Seoul.  They agreed on a stepped-up engagement policy to persuade North Korea to abandon its nuclear and missile ambitions.13

March 24: The Washington Times reported that North Korea has not turned over vital parts of a 50-megawatt reactor, the construction of which was frozen under the Agreed Framework.14

Late March: Two North Korean spy vessels in Japan’s territorial waters were challenged by a Japanese patrol, which fired the Japanese military’s first shots against a foreign presence since World War II.

March 31: A fourth round of talks failed to convince North Korea to accept a U.S. demand to stop developing and exporting missiles. North Korea said it would never change its missile policy under pressure from the United States, but that it would be willing to suspend its missile exports if the United States paid a cash compensation of $1 billion annually for three years.15

April 1999[Notes for April 1999] [back to the top]

Apr. 13: The Japanese weekly magazine, AERA, quoted North Korean defector Kim Duck-hong as saying that North Korea has already developed and stockpiled "nuclear missiles." Kim, a former high-ranking North Korean official, said in the interview "I heard that North Korea had been importing precise components from Japan and uranium from Pakistan for the development of nuclear weapons."

Apr. 24: The fifth round of the Four Party Talks began in Geneva, chaired by the United States.16

May 1999[Notes for May 1999] [back to the top]


May 20-24: A United States team visited Kumchang-ni.17

May 24: The United States, South Korea and Japan agreed that an effective policy towards North Korea must be a closely coordinated effort. The Trilateral Coordination and Oversight Group (TCOG) was established to institutionalize the process of consultation and policy coordination.

May 25-27: Special envoy William Perry visited North Korea and met with high-level North Korean officials.

May 27: Perry arrived in South Korea to brief Seoul officials on the outcome of his visit to North Korea.

May 28: The U.S. State Department concluded that the Kumchang-ni facility was an empty, underground tunnel complex, and that it was not being used for purposes that would violate the October 1994 Agreed Framework.18


June 1999[Notes for June 1999] [back to the top]

June 15: North Korean ships crossed the Northern Limit Line and were challenged by South Korean vessels. One North Korean gunboat was sunk and several others were damaged. An estimated 30 North Korean sailors died and seven South Korean soldiers were wounded.19

June 16: Japanese media sources reported that North Korea was preparing to launch a Taepo Dong-2 missile with an assessed range of 4,000-6,000 kilometers.20

June 17: The U.S. Defense Department reported that North Korea had conducted propulsion tests on a long range missile that could reach the western United States. They predicted North Korea would test the missile in the summer of 1999.21

The IAEA reported that it was still unable to verify the correctness and completeness of North Korea’s initial declaration of nuclear material.22

Karen Han, a U.S. citizen, was arrested in North Korea for a "gross violation" of a North Korean legal order.23

June 18: Two U.S. missile cruisers were stationed in the Yellow Sea on mission to help keep peace after the Korean naval clash.24

In a letter to the UN Security Council, North Korea protested South Korean intrusions into the Yellow Sea, charging that the United States and South Korea were purposefully provoking North Korea.25

June 21: South Korean intelligence officials reported that North Korea was working to improve the range and capabilities of its Taepo Dong-2 ballistic missile. The report said a launch pad on the northeastern coast of North Korea was being repaired and enlarged for another launch in the future.26

June 22: After 14 months of stalemate, officials from North and South Korea held diplomatic talks. After only 90 minutes, the North accused the South of deliberately pushing their rivalry to the brink of war in the June 15 naval clash. North Korea said it would not meet again until Seoul was ready to apologize.27

Generals from the UN Command and North Korea met to discuss how to avoid further armed clashes in the Yellow Sea. North Korea renewed its claim to the disputed waters and warned South Korea and the United States not to intrude into its territorial waters. No agreement was reached.28

June 23: U.S. Ambassador Kartman met in Beijing with North Korea’s Vice Foreign Minister Kim Gye Gwan to apprise him of the results of the May 20-24 visit to the Kumchang-ni site. The talks also covered matters related to the implementation of the Agreed Framework and the upcoming round of the Four Party Talks.29

June 24: During the State Department Daily Briefing, spokesman James Rubin said the United States still harbored suspicions about the purpose of Kumchang-ni, even though the U.S. team found nothing at the site. It was announced that follow-up visits were scheduled, the first to take place in May 2000, in order to fully remove suspicions about the intended use of the installation.30

President Kim Dae Jung defended the sunshine policy in an interview with the Washington Post. Noting criticism at home and abroad from those who believe South Korea should take a harder stance toward North Korea, President Kim argued that engagement with communism has always worked better than confrontation.31

June 25: U.S., South Korean and Japanese officials met in Washington for trilateral consultations regarding North Korea.32

Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer met with North Korean officials in Bangkok. Downer said Australia was ready to provide $10 million in humanitarian aid to North Korea, as long as it continued to make progress on arms control and nonproliferation issues. 33

June 30: Nine North Korean fishing vessels intruded into South Korean waters in the Yellow Sea for four hours. The incident marked the first time that North Korean vessels had crossed the Northern Limit Line since the June 15 naval clash.34

The U.S. Navy sent two guided missile cruisers, a nuclear submarine and a full battle group to Korean waters to monitor "foreign missile launches."35

The New York Times reported that U.S. officials were worried that South Korea may be pushing ahead with several missile projects that could further fuel an arms race on the Korean peninsula. The political pressure in South Korea to deploy such missiles could grow if North Korea test-launched a Taepo Dong-2 missile.36



Notes for 1998

1 Kevin Sullivan, "N. Korea Admits Selling Missiles," Washington Post, June 17, 1998.

2 Dana Priest, "U.S. Warns N. Korea on Nuclear Facility,"Washington Post,  August 26, 1998.

3 “Appropriations for KEDO:  U.S. Congress Imposes Conditions on Continued Funding,” Global Beat Index, October 19, 1998. [Back to 1998]

Notes for January 1999 4 “Japan Says North Korea May Have Deployed Missile,” Reuters, January 3, 1999.

5 Ralph Cossa, "The US-DPRK Agreed Framework: Is it still viable? Is it still Enough?" (Honolulu, HI: Pacific Forum CSIS, April 1999).

6 “Japan Demands End to N. Korea Missile Tests, Korea Times, January 21, 1999. [Back to January 1999]

Notes for February 1999 7 Jim Lea, Pacific Stars and Stripes, February. 17, 1999. 8 Jim Lea, Pacific Stars and Stripes, February 17, 1999. 9 "Sunshine Policy in a Nutshell," Republic of Korea National Intelligence Service, Fall 1999. 10 "Uncovering the Truth about North Korea’s Alleged Underground Nuclear Facility: The Kumchang-ri Controversy," (Washington, D.C.: Center for Nonproliferation Studies). [Back to February 1999]

Notes for March 1999 11 Korea Focus, vol.7, no.2, March 9, 1999. 12 John M. Goshko, "North Korea to Allow U.S. Inspections," Washington Post, March 17, 1999. 13 Korea Focus, vol.7, no.2, March 20, 1999. 14 Ben Barber and Stewart Stogel, "Parts Missing in N. Korea Reactor," Washington Times, March 24, 1999. 15 Paul Shin, “North Korea Rejects U.S. Missile Demand,” Washington Post, March 31, 1999. [Back to March 1999]

Notes for April 1999 16 Department of State Daily Press Briefing, Spokesman James Foley, April 13, 1999. [Back to April 1999]

Notes for May 1999 17 "Uncovering the Truth about North Korea’s Alleged Underground Nuclear Facility: The Kumchang-ri Controversy," (Washington, D.C.: Center for Nonproliferation Studies). 18 Department of State Daily Press Briefing, Spokesman James Rubin, May 28, 1999.

[Back to May 1999]

Notes for June 1999 19 "U.S. Navy ship sail into Korean Waters after Armed Clash," CNN, June 17, 1999. 20 “North Korea to Test Missile,” Associated Press, June 15, 1999. 21 "Pentagon Predicts North Korea will Test Long-Range Missile," Washington Times, June 17, 1999. 22 "Implementation of IAEA Safeguards in 1998," IAEA Press Release, June 17, 1999. 23 Charles Hutzler, "NKorea-US," Associated Press, July 12, 1999. 24 "U.S. Warship Arrives in Korean Waters," Washington Times, June 18, 1999. 25 "North Korea Protest Intrusions in the West Sea," United Nations Security Council- Letter from the Permanent representative of the DPRK to the United Nations addressed to the President of the Security Council, June 18, 1999. 26 Elizabeth Becker, "U.S. Says Photos Show North Korea Preparing for Missile," New York Times, June 17, 1999. 27 "North Koreans Start Talks with South After Delivery of Aid," New York Times, June 22, 1999. 28 "North Won’t Talk Without an Apology," Washington Post, June 22, 1999. 29 Department of State Daily Press Briefing, Spokesman James Rubin, June 23, 1999. 30 Department of State Daily Press Briefing, Spokesman James Rubin, June 24, 1999. 31 Kevin Sullivan and Mary Jordan, "South Korea’s Kim Defends Policy Toward North," Washington Post, June 24, 1999. 32 Robin Bulman, "US Envoy to brief S.Korea on talks with North," Reuters, June 25, 1999. 33 "Arms Control would help North Korea aid—-Australia," Reuters, June 25, 1999. 34 “North Korea Boats Eneter Disputed Area,” Assocated Press, June 30, 1999. 35 "North Korea deploys missile," Associated Press, June 30, 1999. 36 "U.S. Warns that Arms Race May Begin between Koreas," New York Times, June 30, 1999.