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Timeline: American attempts to deter North Korea's nuclear program

Recent U.S. tensions with North Korea are leaving Americans uneasy, as President Trump threatens to meet North Korean aggression with "fire" and "fury" and North Korea lays out a plan to launch missiles near the U.S. territory island of Guam. 

Mr. Trump has found negotiating with North Korea and its unpredictable leader, Kim Jong Un, isn't as easy as he perhaps hoped. Mr. Trump has tried pressuring China -- which has economic leverage over North Korea and borders that country -- but that has left him "disappointed." As the U.S. and North Korea exchange threats, Mr. Trump likely has tough choices in his near future as to how to handle the North Korea's nuclear and missile programs.

But the U.S. has a complicated, decades-long history of attempting to halt North Korean nuclear aggression, dating back to the 1980s. Time and again, the U.S. -- at times, aided by other countries and the United Nations -- has attempted to make deals with North Korea to suspend or dismantle its nuclear weapons program. Time and again, North Korea has found a way to skirt or violate any agreement, slowly continuing the development of its program. 

The story behind Trump's "fire & fury" comment 09:07

Here is a brief timeline of U.S. attempts to intervene in North Korea and halt its nuclear weapons program:

  • 1985 - North Korea signs the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NTP), after U.S. spy satellites detect possible construction of a nuclear weapons program. The Soviet Union pressures North Korea to make the deal.
  • 1992 - North Korea signs on to an agreement to allow International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors review its facilities.
  • 1993 - The U.S. begins talks with North Korea, after North Korea refuses access to inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency and begins the process of withdrawing from the NTP. As a result of the talks, North Korea backs out of its decision to withdraw from the NTP, and its agreement to allow IAEA inspections, according to the Arms Control Association
  • April 1994 - Bilateral talks between the U.S. and North Korea resume after former President Jimmy Carter visits North Korea's capital, Pyongyang.
  • October 1994 - Despite the death of North Korean leader Kim Il Sung in July, the U.S. and North Korea sign an agreement in October under which North Korea agrees to freeze operations at its nuclear facilities and denuclearize the Korean Peninsula. In exchange for the program's dismantling, the U.S. agrees to arrange for North Korea to get two light water reactor nuclear power plants and heavy fuel oil, according to a 2016 Congressional Research Service report
  • April 1998 - The U.S. imposes sanctions on North Korea in response to North Korea's transfer of missile technology to a laboratory in Pakistan, according to the Arms Control Association. 
  • October 1998 - In talks in New York, North Korea rejects the U.S. proposal to terminate its missile program in exchange for relief from economic sanctions.
  • 2000 - The U.S. has several talks with North Korea, ending without any significant agreements. The U.S. rejects one proposal from North Korea to give it $1 billion per year in return for halting missile exports.
  • 2001 - The U.S. imposes sanctions on North Korea's Changgwang Sinyong Corporation for violating terms of the Iran Nonproliferation Act of 2000. 
  • 2002 - The George W. Bush administration confronts North Korea about a suspected uranium enrichment program, which the North Koreans deny. But those new concerns prompt the suspension of the shipments of heavy fuel oil and construction of the light water reactors. North Korea expels IAEA inspectors from its facilities.
  • 2003 - In January, North Korea officially withdraws from the NTP. The "Six-Party Talks," talks that expand beyond the U.S. and North Korea to include China, South Korea, Japan and Russia, begin. 
  • 2005 - As a result of the Six-Party Talks, North Korea agrees in a joint statement to abandon its nuclear weapons program in exchange for aid, a guarantee of U.S. security and talks about normalizing relations with the U.S. But the U.S. later freezes North Korean assets in a bank in Macau on suspicion of illicit activity, breaking down the abandonment process.
  • 2006 - North Korea tests long-range missiles, prompting a United Nations Security Council to issue a resolution to suspend North Korea's nuclear program. That doesn't work either, as North Korea says it's tested its first successful nuclear weapon. The U.N. Security Council imposes new sanctions on North Korea. 
  • 2007 - North Korea again agrees to dismantle its nuclear weapons facilities at Six-Party talks in September, but misses the deadline to destroy all of its nuclear weapons facilities by the end of the year. 
  • 2008 - The Six-Party Talks break down after North Korea refuses to allow international inspectors into its facilities.
  • 2009 - The U.N. Security Council imposes new sanctions after North Korea announces it conducted a second successful nuclear test in May.
  • 2011 - U.S. officials meet with a North Korea delegation in Switzerland in efforts to pick up talks from 2008.
  • 2012 - The State Department says North Korea has agreed to halt long-range missile launches and activity in the country's major nuclear facility in exchange for food aid. 
  • 2013 - The U.N. imposes additional sanctions after North Korea conducts its third nuclear test -- the first test under current leader Kim Jong Un. 
  • 2016 - In March, then-President Barack Obama issues an executive order imposes further economic sanctions on North Korea, in response to missile launches and a nuclear test earlier in January. 
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