US - Korea
Chronology from Oct 2008 to Dec 2008
: The last 520 South Korean soldiers depart Iraq, ending South Korea’s four-year mission to the country.
: Adm. Timothy Keating of U.S. Pacific Command states that North Korea possesses intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching the U.S., including Hawaii and territories of the U.S. in the Pacific.
: Secretary of State Rice states that the Bush administration is committed to continuing to work toward written commitments on inspections of the DPRK’s disarmament program until President Bush’s last day in office.
: The DPRK threatens to slow disablement of its Yongbyon nuclear facility after the U.S. announces it will suspend fuel aid due to the DPRK’s refusal to accept a nuclear disarmament verification plan.
: U.S. Department of Defense spokesman Stewart Upton states that a DOD report that characterizes North Korea as one of five Asian nuclear powers “does not reflect official U.S. government policy regarding the status of North Korea.”
: Six-Party Talks are held in Beijing, focusing on drafting an agreement on verification protocol. China circulates a draft protocol for verifying Yongbyon’s nuclear information. However, talks conclude with no written agreement regarding the denuclearization verification protocol.
: Secretary Hill meets with his DPRK counterpart Kim Kye-gwan in Singapore to discuss the protocol of verification, fuel delivery, and schedule of disablements prior to the start of the Six-Party Talks.
: Secretary of State Rice states that the purpose of the Six-Party Talks scheduled for Dec. 8 is to codify the “number of assurances and a number of understandings” regarding the disarmament verification protocol.
: Special Envoy Sung Kim states that “There is no confusion between Washington and Pyongyang on what was agreed” regarding disarmament verification.
: The U.S. and ROK reach an agreement on how cost sharing for operating U.S. military bases in South Korea over the next five years, with the ROK expected to increase its financial contribution by the same proportion as the local inflation rate for each year until 2013.
: The Kyunghyang Shinmun reports that a verbal deal reached between the DPRK and the U.S. last month would allow inspectors to take samples from the Yongbyon nuclear complex, but only after it enters the next phase of the denuclearization process.
: The Donga Ilbo reports that the U.S. plans to complete the relocation of U.S. troops from Yongsan Garrison and Gyeonggi Province to Pyeontaek by 2016, citing the impossibility of advancing the schedule due to budget and technical problems.
: President Lee meets former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and former Representative Jim Leach, two top aides to President-elect Obama, “to exchange views on various issues of mutual interest, including ways to overcome the global economic crisis.”
: North Korean Foreign Ministry states that it will not allow outside inspectors to take soil and nuclear waste samples from the Yongbyon nuclear facility.
: U.S. and ROK celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Combined Forces Command. CFC Commander Gen. Walter Sharp states that despite the pending deactivation of the command in 2012, the defense capabilities of the U.S.-ROK alliance would continue to improve.
: U.S. ships 50,000 metric tons of heavy fuel oil to North Korea as part of the nuclear disarmament deal.
: President Lee states that he would not oppose a summit between President Obama and North Korean leader Kim Jong-il if it helps bring an end to North Korea’s nuclear program, supporting a statement made by Obama during his campaign that he would be willing to hold direct talks with the DPRK.
: State Department spokesman Robert Wood expresses U.S. thanks to South Korea for the Zaytun Division’s contribution to Iraqi stabilization.
: During a telephone conversation, President Lee and President-elect Obama agree to further reinforce the bilateral alliance and to closely cooperate in addressing the global financial crisis and the North Korean nuclear issue.
: AP reports that a North Korean diplomat states that North Korea is ready to deal with any new U.S. administration following Obama’s election victory, and that the DPRK will be open to dialogue if the U.S. seeks it.
: Sung Kim, U.S. State Department’s special envoy for North Korea, and Ri Gun, North Korean Foreign Ministry’s director for North American affairs, meet in New York to discuss the next steps in implementing Pyongyang’s pledge to dismantle its nuclear program.
: Lee Hye-min, South Korea’s chief free-trade regulator, warns President-elect Obama that renegotiating the U.S.-ROK FTA would contradict international custom and potentially damage “the balance that was achieved when the deal was reached.”
: Rodong Simmun reports that the DPRK will further strengthen its defense capabilities against a nuclear threat from the U.S. in response to the U.S. Air Force’s Oct. 24 announcement that it would create a nuclear command.
: Negotiations between the U.S. and South Korea regarding how to share the cost of maintaining 28,000 U.S. troops on the Korean Peninsula conclude without substantial results.
: Secretary Hill states that on-site inspections of North Korean nuclear facilities should start as early as the end of the year after Six-Party Talks delegates approve a recent U.S.-DPRK agreement on how to check information Pyongyang provides about its nuclear activities.
: The ROK Defense Ministry announces that South Korea and the U.S. will, for the first time, conduct a joint search of the demilitarized zone (DMZ) for soldiers buried during the Korean War.
: President George W. Bush announces South Korea’s entry into the Visa Waiver Program, which allows Korean citizens to stay in the U.S. for up to 90 days without visas.
: Following the annual U.S. – ROK Security Consultative Meeting (SCM) held in Washington, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates affirms that the U.S. remains committed to defending South Korea, that its armed forces would respond “quickly with appropriate military power in case of a military emergency, and that South Korea will continue to receive the protection of the “U.S. nuclear umbrella”.
: A ship carrying a delivery of food aid comprised of 20,000 tons of corn and 5,000 tons of beans departs from the U.S. and is scheduled to arrive in North Korea on Nov. 18.
: The ROK Justice Ministry announces that U.S. Forces, Korea (USFK) has refused to share the expenses the Korean government was forced to pay for lawsuits involving U.S. military activities. USFK’s says the Status of Forces Agreement allows it to differ from the Korean court’s decision if it was out of sync with its own judgment.
: IAEA inspectors reseal equipment and reactivate cameras at the Yongbyon nuclear complex.
: U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns, South Korean Deputy Foreign Minister Lee Yong-joon, and Japanese Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs Kenichiro Sasae meet in Washington to discuss trilateral security cooperation issues, including Iraq, Afghanistan, the Northeast Asian political situation, regional cooperation, and major international security issues.
: North Korea lifts its ban on International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspections and announces that it will continue to disable Yongbyon nuclear facilities.
: U.S. removes North Korea from its list of state sponsors of terrorism. State Department spokesman McCormack states that “Every single element of verification that we sought going in is part of this package.”
: North Korea bars international nuclear inspectors from all parts of its Yongbyon nuclear complex and threatens to restart its reactor.
: U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice insists that North Korea must meet proper standards for verifying its nuclear disarmament, while declining to comment on the outcome of talks that Secretary Christopher Hill held with North Korean officials.
: Yonhap reports that North Korea fired two short-range missiles into international waters in the Yellow Sea as part of a routine military drill. State Department spokesman McCormack states that the U.S. advises against the firing of short-range missiles because “It’s not helpful in any way managing tensions within the region.”
: U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill meets Chinese Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Wu Dawei in Beijing to discuss the outcome of his negotiations with North Korean officials.
: U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack reiterates that a verification protocol is an “irreducible component of the six-party process moving forward.”
: ROK Defense Ministry states that the U.S. has asked for a delay in the schedule to relocate U.S. military bases in South Korea by up to four years due to budgetary constraints.
: Assistant Secretary of State Hill meets South Korean counterpart Kim Sook to discuss Hill’s visit to Pyongyang. Later, he meets his Japanese counterpart Saiki Akitaka for similar discussions.