North Korea's Nuclear History

Main

Soviet Union

1956

The Soviet Union begins training North Korean scientists and engineers, enabling them to acquire basic knowledge to initiate a nuclear program

Nuclear Cooperative Agreement

1959

North Korea and the USSR sign a nuclear cooperative agreement. Over the next 30 years Moscow provides North Korea with basic nuclear training and technology.

Yongbyon Nuclear Research Center

1962

The Yongbyon Nuclear Research Center with the IRT-2000 research reactor is completed.

Fission

1965

The Yongbyon reactor reaches a power rating of 2MW(th) and they begin to successfully pursue fission experiments wth materials purchased from the USSR in 1963

Denied

1970 - 1979

South Korea refuses North Korea's offer to forge a joint, covert nuclear program

Nuclear Weapons Assistance

1970 - 1979

Kim II Sung's request for nuclear weapons assistance are rebuffed by both China and the USSR

Mining

1980

North Korea begins mining operations at various locations near Sunchon and Pyongsan.

Plutonium Production

1984 - 1986

North Korea completes construction of a 5MWe gas-cooled, graphite moderated nuclear reactor for plutonium production

Moving Forward

1984

North Korea completes construction of a Radiochemical Laboratory - a reprocessing plant used to separate plutonium from nuclear fuel at the Yongbyon Research Center. This allows them to establish a full plutonium fuel cycle

Danger

1985

North Korea reaches dangerous levels of nuclear capacity with advancements due to the increased Soviet support for the nuclear program

NPT

1985

North Korea joins the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty

Caught

1989

North Korea's nuclear program is conclusively confirmed by U.S. satellite images - leading to the first nuclear crisis between the US and North Korea

Crisis

1989 - 1994

North Korea is forced to deal with the fall of the USSR, normalization of Sino-Soviet relations, the death of Kim II Sung, an economic downturn and food and energy shortages. This slowed down their nuclear program significantly

Soviet Scientists

1991

North Korea attempts to acquire Soviet scientists with knowledge of high energy physics, however the scientists are detained by the Soviet officials.

Safeguard Agreement

1992

North Korea signs the Safeguard agreement with the IAEA

Terminated

1993

North Korea pulls out of the agreement and in the same year tests the Nodong-1 missile.

Agreed Frameworks

1994

North Korea signs the Agreed Frameworks with the U.S.

Pakistan

1997

It was reported that North Korea provided Pakistan with the No-dong missile and production technology in exchange for gas centrifuge technology.

Underground Facility

1998

A suspected underground nuclear facility in Kumchang-ri was discovered by U.S. spy satellite imagery. This lead to the U.S. congress to halt $35 million in heavy oil aid and inspections of the new facility by June 1, 1999

Test

1998

North Korea test fires Taepodong-1 missile over Japan.

Attempt

1998

U.S. aid is given to North Korea in exchange for them to halt their missile program.

Berlin Agreement

1999

North Korea signed the Berlin Agreement

Expulsion

2002

North Korea expels the IAEA inspectors

Reports

2002

U.S. begins reporting on a secret North Korean Highly Enriched Uranium Program (HEU)

Resume

2003

Resumption of activity in the Yongbyon reactor

Turn Down

2003

George W. Bush turns down a proposition from the North to freeze its reactors in exchange for a list of concessions.

Withdrawal

2003

North Korea withdrawals from the NPT

Six Party Talk

2003 - 2005

Six Party Talks fail to make substantial progress due to North Korean acts of aggression via the missile tests in February 2003 and May 2005

Launch

2006

North Korea launches 7 missiles. The two short and medium range missiles were successful, while the long range missile was not.

Nuclear Test

2006

North Korea conducts underground nuclear tests

Continuing

2006

The Six Party Talks continue

Another signature

2007

Another agreement between North Korea and the U.S. was signed

Rotation

2007

Rotating teams of U.S. and Russia officials oversee the dismantlement though not the disposal of more then half of Yongbyon's 8,000 spent fuel rods

2nd Nuclear Weapon

2009

North Korea tests its second nuclear weapon and expels IAEA again

Another Test

2009

North Korea tests the Unha-2 missile over Japan

Secrets

2010

North Korea reveals a secret advanced uranium enrichment plant

Kwangyongsong-3

2012

North Korea tests Kwangygongsong-3 satellite missile, but it fails

Success

2012

North Korea is successful in launching a satellite into orbit, using a long-range rocket. This sparks a lot of concern and discussion.