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North Korea's threat to cancel Trump-Kim summit is just the latest of broken promises

In the past three decades, both North Korea and the United States have made commitments in the context of nuclear negotiations that neither side kept.


White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders says North Korea's threat to scrap the summit with President Donald Trump was "fully expected." (May 16) AP

North Korea leader Kim Jong Un (left) and President Trump (right).(Photo: Korea Summit Press Pool/Michael Reynolds, EPA-EFE)

North Korea's threat Wednesday to cancel a planned summit between Kim Jong Un and President Trump if the United States insists on the North giving up its nukes  is the latest in a long list of broken promises between the two countries.

The statement came a day after North Korea canceled a high-level meeting with South Korean diplomats over planned U.S.-South Korea military drills. The new rift follows last month's optimistic summit between the rival Koreas where South Korean President Moon Jae-in said the North would not object to the planned exercises.

"North Korea has, on multiple occasions, offered concessions to U.S. and South Korean interests, only to renege on them with embarrassing haste," Tan wrote in The Strategy Bridge, an online military journal.

Here's a list of commitments by North Korea, and some by the U.S., that were made, retracted and revived:

1985: North Korea signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), pledging not to obtain nuclear weapons. But the North did not complete a safeguards agreement with the United Nations' nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). In the coming years, the North said it would adhere to the safeguards provision of the treaty to the withdrawal of U.S. nuclear weapons from South Korea, according to the Arms Control Association. That happened in 1991, after the Cold War ended.

1992: North and South Korea agreed to the Joint Declaration of the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. The agreement announced that neither country would “test, manufacture, produce, receive, possess, store, deploy or use nuclear weapons.” Both countries agreed to mutual inspections, but in 1993 the North, presented with evidence it was cheating, refused an inspection request by the IAEA and announced it would pull out of the NPT.

A traffic policeman checks his watch outside the central railway station in Pyongyang. North Korea went forward in time by 30 minutes on May 4, to match its clocks with those of the South following the inter-Korean summit on April 27.  KIM WON-JIN/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo shake hands at the Workers' Party of Korea headquarters in Pyongyang on May 9, 2018.  North Korea's Official Korean Central News Agency via AFP/Getty Images

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Wang Yi, state councelor and foreign minister of the People's Republic of China and his deligation visit the Friendship Tower in Pyongyang, May 2, 2018.  NORTH KOREAN CENTRAL NEWS AGENCY VIA EPA-EFE

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This is the former North Korean Workers Party Headquarters in Cheorwon, April 22, 2018.  ED JONES/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

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This is the former North Korean Workers Party Headquarters in Cheorwon, April 22, 2018.   ED JONES/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

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Korean People's Army soldiers arrive to pay their respects before the statues of late North Korean leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, at Mansu hill in Pyongyang April 15, 2018.  ED JONES/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

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This is the Pyongyang city skyline and the Taedong river, April 4, 2018.   ED JONES/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

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Staff members stand before preserved 'flat-fish' in a science classroom at the Mangyongdae Revolutionary Academy outside Pyongyang, April 10, 2018. The academy was originally created for orphans who lost parents in the Korean War, and currently has 1000 students.  ED JONES/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

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Spectators walk across Kim Il Sung square as they arrive to watch a fireworks display during celebrations marking the anniversary of the birth of late North Korean leader Kim Il Sung in Pyongyang on April 15, 2018.  ED JONES/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

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Visitors by the gate of the Central zoo in Pyongyang, April 15, 2018.   CHA SONG HO/AP

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People hold a dance party to celebrate the 106th birth anniversary of late North Korean leader Kim Il-Sung in Pyongyang, in this photo released on April, 15, 2018.   NORTH KOREA'S OFFICIAL KOREAN CE

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1994: North Korea again committed to implement the Joint Declaration to denuclearize the peninsula, including inspections by the IAEA. The United States promised to supply two nuclear reactors for energy, and to normalize economic and diplomatic relations, none of which ever happened. The U.S. also agreed to organize other energy assistance for the North, which it did.

1999: North Korea agrees to a moratorium on testing any long-range missiles for the duration of talks with the United States. The U.S. agrees to a partial lifting of economic sanctions on North Korea. Sanctions are lifted in June 2000, but new sanctions were also imposed in January, over North Korea's transfer of ballistic missiles and missile technology to Iran and Pakistan.

2000: Kim Jong Il tells Russia's President Vladimir Putin "we would stop developing rockets when the United States comes forward and launches our satellites." The State Department said it took the offer "very seriously," and U.S.-North Korea talks resumed. They discussed removing the North from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism. That idea was nixed after al-Qaida terrorists targeted the U.S. on Sept. 11, 2001. In 2002, President George W. Bush listed North Korea with Iraq and Iran in his "Axis of Evil" speech, and cooperation broke off between the the U.S. and the North.

2003: North Korea pulled out of the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons treaty.

2005: The North committed again to abandon all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs and to return to the NPT and to allow IAEA inspections. The North and the United States again agreed to take steps to normalize relations, and for the U.S. to provide energy assistance and begin the process of removing the North from its terror list. The U.S. provided the energy assistance it promised by 2008, but the other two goals have yet to happen. The next year, on Oct. 9, 2006, North Korea conducted an underground test of its first nuclear weapon.

2009: North Korea says it has "already weaponized" its nuclear fuel. Responding to the latest round of U.N. sanctions over its ongoing missile program, the North pulls out of the Six Party Talks with the U.S., China, Russia, Japan and South Korea, and says it “will no longer be bound” by any agreements reached. North Korea conducted its second underground nuclear test.

2012: North Korea discussed denuclearization in the context of the U.S. making a “bold and fundamental change” in policy toward North Korea. Kim sought to “open up a new chapter for the development of relations with the countries friendly toward us, unbound to the past,” the foreign ministry said. If the North is faced with ongoing “U.S. hostile policy,” that would result “in further expanding and building up of the (North's) nuclear arsenal,” it said.

The statement showed North Korea trying “to engage with the United States on peace talks rather than on nuclear talks,” Scott Snyder, an analyst at the Council on Foreign Relations, wrote at the time.

2018: After meeting with South Korean President Moon and releasing three American detainees last week, North Korea agreed to a meeting with Trump on June 12 in Singapore to discuss the nuclear issue. 

A week later, a North Korean official announced on the country's official KCNA news channel that meeting may be nixed if it is going to be pushed into giving up its nuclear arsenal.

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