North Korea announces to stop nuclear tests: A timeline of events
The news of North Korea shutting down its atomic test site and stop testing nuclear weapons and launching of intercontinental ballistic missiles on Saturday, April 21, left the international community elated.
How Pyongyang's nuclear programme advanced through all these years? Here is a timeline of the events:
North Korea signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty or NPT.
When the International Atomic Energy Agency sought that its inspectors be given permission to visit North Korea's two nuclear waste storage sites, Pyongyang threatened to quit the nuclear treaty though it did not do so eventually.
Pyongyang entered an agreement with Washington, pledging to freeze and discard its old nuclear reactors in exchange for aid to set up two new light-water nuclear reactors.
In January, the then US president George W Bush dubbed North Korea as a member of the "axis of evil" along with Iran and Iraq saying the three countries posed a grave danger by seeking weapons of mass destruction. Later that year, the Bush administration said North Korea acknowledged running a secret nuclear weapons programme breaching the 1994 pact.
North Korea bids adieu to NPT and the US soon confirmed that it reactivated a five-megawatt nuclear reactor which was capable of producing plutonium for the cause of armament. In April 2003, Pyongyang declared it possessed nuclear weapons.
Pyongyang tentatively agreed to stop its nuclear programme in lieu of which countries like the US, Russia, China, Japan and South Korea would provide it energy and extend other economic cooperation.
North Korea test-fired long-range missiles, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution seeking it to stop the programme. In October, Pyongyang claimed to have tested its first nuclear weapon successfully. This saw the UN imposing a number of sanctions on the hermit kingdom.
North Korea agreed to shut its main nuclear reactor for an aid package amounting to $400 million. In September, North Korea signed an agreement at a six-party meeting in Beijing, promising to dismantle its nuclear weapons facilities. But it missed the deadline.
Pyongyang destroyed its water-cooling tower at Yongbyon nuclear facility. In December, six-party talks in Beijing broke down as North Korea refused to allow international observers to visit its suspected nuclear facilities.
North Korea declared it had conducted its second nuclear test. The UN Security Council imposed more sanctions on the country.
A report is published by a professor of Stanford University saying North Korea has established a new nuclear enrichment facility.
US and North Korean delegates met in Geneva to resume the six-party nuclear talks. Kim Jong-un succeeded his father Kim Jong-Il as the leader of North Korea in December.
The US announced that North Korea agreed to a moratorium on launching long-range missiles and nuclear activities at its major nuclear site in lieu of food aid.
North Korea announced that it would continue with its nuclear tests and long-range rocket launches and they would lead to an "upcoming all-out action" against the US - "the sworn enemy of the Korean people".
In February, North Korea conducted its third test and the first under Kim Jong-un. The UN imposed more sanctions on Pyongyang.
North Korea warned about a more nuclear test. It consequently fired shells across the sea border with neighbour South Korea. Seoul retaliated with shells and deploying fighter jets to the border.
A North Korean think tank head said in an interview that Pyongyang had the missile capacity to hit mainland US and would not hesitate to do it in Washington "forced" it. North Korea also said it had the ability to develop nuclear missiles. The worst news came in December that year when North Korea said it had developed a hydrogen bomb.
North Korea said it successfully conducted a hydrogen bomb test though the US responded by saying it did not verify whether the test was successful. Soon after, North Korea said it had developed miniature nuclear warheads that can be fitted on ballistic missiles. In September that year, Pyongyang claimed to have detonated a nuclear warhead.
Kim Jong-un declared on television that North Korea was not far from testing an intercontinental ballistic missile. The US retaliated saying its military would gun down any North Korean missile fired at it or any of its allies. In July, North Korea said it conducted its first test of an intercontinental ballistic missile successfully and it could hit any target anywhere in the world.
Soon after, Pyongyang threatened that it would strike the heart of the US if the latter tried to topple Kim as its supreme leader, the country's state media said. In August, the North Korean military was checking its operational plan to hit areas around the American territory of Guam with medium-to-long-range strategic ballistic missiles, state-run media KCNA said.
US President Donald Trump threatened that if Pyongyang continued to threaten the US, it would face "fire and fury like the world have never seen". In his speech at the UN in September, Trump vowed to "totally destroy" North Korea. He also called Kim the "little rocket man". Also in September, North Korea carried out its sixth nuclear test, causing a 6.3 magnitude quake. US and South Korean officials apprehended that North Korea was on its way to launch a nuclear weapon on a long-range ballistic missile.
Trump threatens Kim with a retaliatory nuclear strike. But peace started to make an appearance this year as the White House said the Trump administration might be willing to hold talks with North Korea.
South Korea said North Korean authorities agreed to give up nuclear programmes and engage in peace talks. South Korean national security chief Chung Eui-Yong announced in the US that Trump accepted an invitation to hold one-on-one talks with Kim.
Kim was seen paying a secret visit to China to meet its president Xi Jinping and then the two Koreas began their summit which was set to culminate into the talks between the top leaders of the two countries. North Korea then came up with its announcement on April 21 ahead of Kim's proposed talks with Trump in May end or early June.