US - Korea

Chronology from Jan 2010 to Mar 2010

: Kim Sung-chan, South Korea’s Chief of Naval Operations, says that Cheonan did not sink from an internal explosion but from “a powerful outside pressure or explosion.”

: ROK Defense Minister Kim Tae-young says, “North Korea may have intentionally floated underwater mines to inflict damage on us.”

: ROK officials rule out that an accident or collision with a reef caused the Cheonan to sink. Defense Minister Kim Tae-young suggests that one of the many DPRK sea mines placed during the Korean War could have sparked the explosion that sunk the Cheonan.

: DPRK accuses the US and the ROK of creating provocations by allowing tourists and journalists into the Demilitarized Zone. The DPRK demands an end to the tours, calling them part of a pattern of “psychological warfare” and warning of “unpredictable incidents including the loss of human lives in this area for which the US side will be wholly to blame.”

: US State Department spokesman Crowley says that the US has no evidence that DPRK is involved in the sinking of Cheonan.

: An explosion breaks Republic of Korea Navy vessel Cheonan in half and causes it to sink in the Yellow Sea near the disputed ROK-DPRK maritime border.

: In comment on KCNA, the DPRK military threatens “unprecedented nuclear strikes” over a report that the US and ROK are preparing for possible instability in the DPRK.

: Gen. Sharp suggests discussions at the “highest levels” of the ROK and US governments over delaying the handover of full control of ROK troops to Seoul in 2012 at a hearing of the Senate Committee on Armed Services. Adm. Robert Willard, commander of the US Pacific Command, says that the US is ready to transfer the wartime command control of the ROK troops to Seoul as scheduled in 2012.

: ROK warship Cheonan splits apart near the maritime border with the DPRK and sinks after an explosion in the rear hull. The cause of the explosion remains unclear, and officials say it could take weeks to determine.

:  Korean Central News Agency announces that the DPRK will put on trial a US citizen identified as Aijalon Mahli Gomes, who entered the country illegally.

:  Yonhap news agency reports that Pak Nam Gi, the ruling Workers’ Party finance and planning department chief who spearheaded the currency reform in the DPRK, was executed by a firing squad in Pyongyang.

: Korea Times reports that a US Joint Forces Command report says that the ROK, like Japan, has the technology to build a nuclear arsenal quickly if it decides to do so.

: Chosun Ilbo reports that Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell told US Ambassador Kathleen Stephens, an ROK lawmaker, and activists in a closed-door session that he doubted Kim Jong-il would live beyond 2013.

:   ROK Defense Minister Kim Tae-young says that the DPRK has increased its missile arsenal by 25 percent in the past two years to about 1,000.

: Asahi Shimbun reports the US has asked the ROK to put a regional defense system against ballistic missiles on the agenda for security talks between the two countries.

: Korea Herald reports that revision of a 1974 nuclear energy agreement between the ROK and the US is expected to be critical to the development of the alliance as Seoul explores ways to reuse its mounting nuclear waste.

: ROK government official says that the US has hired a US think tank to gauge public opinion in the ROK on the proposed delay of handing wartime OPCON to Seoul.

:  Gen. Sharp says that US troops who would be tasked with eliminating the DPRK’s weapons of mass destruction in the event of armed conflict are participating in the current Key Resolve-Foal Eagle US-ROK military exercise.

: South Korean Prime Minister Chung Un-chan speaks at the Summit of Honor on Atoms for Peace and Environment (SHAPE), and reiterates Seoul’s intention to pyroprocess spent nuclear fuel.

: The US and the ROK begin their annual joint military exercise.

:  Korean Central Broadcasting Station denounces the annual Key Resolve-Foal Eagle US-ROK military exercise saying it would indefinitely suspend denuclearization talks and all military dialogue as long as the “hostile war games” continue.

: US Special Envoy Bosworth says that the US and China agreed to boost diplomatic drives to resume the stalled Six-Party Talks “as soon as we can.”

: In a speech to the Conference on Disarmament, DPRK diplomat Jon Yong Ryong says, “The nuclear issue on the Korean peninsula should be settled between the DPRK and the US from every aspect as it is a product of the hostile policy of the US toward the DPRK.”

: ROK National Assembly approves a government proposal to send 350 troops to protect ROK civilian aid workers in Afghanistan. The troops will be deployed in central Parwan province from July 2010 to the end of 2012.

: Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC) reports that Stanford specialists are working with doctors from Pyongyang’s Ministry of Public Health to develop that country’s first diagnostic laboratory for drug-resistant tuberculosis.

: US Special Envoy Bosworth says he is “confident” that Six-Party Talks will resume after meeting Wu Dawei, his Chinese counterpart, in Beijing.

: ROK Defense Minister Kim Tae-young says he hopes the US security umbrella would remain intact for a long time.

: Korean Central News Agency says the DPRK’s “nuclear deterrent for self-defense will remain as ever and grow more powerful … as long as the US nuclear threat and hostile policy persist.”

:  Korea Central News Agency reports the DPRK will seek to end hostile relations with the US through “dialogue and negotiation” and also push to mend ties and unite with the ROK by promoting reconciliation and cooperation.

: After his four-day trip to North Korea, UN Undersecretary for Political Affairs Lynn Pascoe says the DPRK is not eager to return to the Six-Party Talks.

: Chosun Ilbo reports that a Gallup poll shows ROK citizens believe that the US-ROK alliance has become stronger since the inauguration of the Lee Myung-bak administration.

: State Department spokesman Crowley says Kim Jong-il’s declaration that he is committed to shelving the country’s nuclear weapons program must be followed by action to rejoin international negotiations.

: In an interview with CNN, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the Obama administration will continue engaging the DPRK to convince it to return to the Six-Party Talks.

: DPRK announces US missionary Robert Park would be released after admitting that he entered the country illegally and showed “sincere repentance” for the transgression.

: Officials at a House Armed Services Committee hearing say the US will mobilize additional forces to send to the ROK in case of a DPRK regime collapse or other contingency.

: State Department spokesman Crowley says the DPRK’s proliferation of weapons of mass destruction could result in relisting as a state sponsor of terrorism.

: US Defense Department report claims the ROK is interested in participating in a US-led ballistic missile defense system, but Seoul denies any concrete commitment.

: President Obama certifies that the DPRK would remain off the US list of terrorist states, despite some calls from Congress for the state to be put back on.

: Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair says in testimony before Congress that the DPRK relies on its nuclear weapons program because of a crumbling military that cannot compete with the ROK.

: US Forces Korea Commander Gen. Walter Sharp says US troop levels in the ROK will remain unchanged after Seoul takes back the wartime operational control of its troops.

: US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates says at a hearing of the House Armed Services Committee that additional US ground forces may not be able to arrive in ROK in time in case of an emergency situation in DPRK due to US commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan.

: Lt. Gen. Benjamin Mixon, commander of US Army, Pacific, says the US wants to organize trilateral military exercises with the ROK and Japan to better deal with disaster relief and humanitarian assistance.

:  Rodong Simun urges the US to give up the Cold War mindset and conclude a peace treaty.

: Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg expresses US support for President Lee Myung-bak’s proposal to meet DPRK leader Kim Jong-il.

: ROK and the US agree to conduct a feasibility study on pyroprocessing.

: President Obama says he will move for congressional approval of pending free trade deals with the ROK, Colombia, and Panama.

: State Department spokesman Crowley dismisses a DPRK offer to reopen talks on finding US soldiers missing since the Korean War, saying Pyongyang must first resume discussions on ending its nuclear ambitions.

: US President Barack Obama in the State of the Union Address calls on DPRK and Iran to abandon their nuclear ambitions, warning of stronger sanctions if they continue to pursue atomic weapons in violation of international accords.

: Korean Central News Agency reports that DPRK detained a US citizen for illegally entering the country from China on Jan. 24.

: Adm. Robert Willard, commander of US Pacific Command, says the DPRK appears willing to resume the search for the remains of missing US service members on its soil.

: US State Department spokesman Philip Crowley denounces the DPRK for escalating tensions by firing artillery shells along the disputed western sea border.

: DPRK announces a shipping exclusion zone off part of its west coast.

: Korea Times reports that the ROK is moving to hold behind-the-scenes discussions with the US in a bid to amend an agreement on cooperation in nuclear energy.

: US Navy announces it assisted of a DPRK-flagged ship in the Gulf of Aden.

: US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell says the Obama administration will work closely with ROK toward congressional approval of the KORUS FTA at a hearing before a Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee.

: Korea Times reports that United States Forces Korea (USFK) will not pay for the cleanup of Camp Hialeah in Busan. Civic groups blame the ROK government for failing to get the USFK to share cleanup costs.

: Yonhap reports that the ROK defense minister said the proposed transfer of wartime operational control (OPCON) to ROK is scheduled for the “worst” possible time.

: Chosun Ilbo reports that senior officials in the U.S. administration, congressmen, and staff see nearly no prospect for the ratification of the ROK-US free trade agreement by the US Congress, according to a group of ROK  lawmakers following a visit to Washington.

: ROK Trade Minister Kim Jong-hoon says that the ROK government will not respond if the US repeats its demand to amend a bilateral free trade accord.

: Rodong Sinmun, the newspaper of DPRK Workers’ Party, calls for the withdrawal of US troops from ROK.

: In a conversation with ROK Internet users, Special Envoy King says the DPRK should follow in the footsteps of Russia and China and open its economic and political systems to improve conditions for its people. He also says the US will not normalize ties with a country that systematically abuses the rights of its people.

: US Special Envoy for the DPRK Stephen Bosworth says, “When North Korea comes back to Six-Party Talks and resumes making progress for the goal of denuclearization, the Security Council will examine the appropriateness of a revision of the sanctions resolution.”

: DPRK says it will allow in more US tourists after years of heavy restrictions on visits, according to the Koryo Group, a tour operator that specializes in DPRK tourism.

: DPRK Ambassador to China Choe Jin-su says that the DPRK will not return to nuclear disarmament negotiations unless the US agrees to peace treaty talks and lifts sanctions.

: Robert King, the US special envoy for DPRK rights issues, says the DPRK must improve its “appalling” human rights record if it wants better relations with the US.

: White House spokesman Robert Gibb dismisses the DPRK’s call for talks on a peace treaty to formally end the Korean War before addressing the issue of dismantling Pyongyang’s nuclear programs.

: DPRK Foreign Ministry says that the resumption of the Six-Party Talks depends on building confidence between Pyongyang and Washington and calls for a peace treaty.

: A senior US State Department official says that the US would welcome a visit to China by DPRK leader Kim Jong-il.

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