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Crisis Du Jour

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Victor Cha
CSIS/Georgetown University

In early 2013, the Korean Peninsula cycled back into crisis. Three weeks after the UN Security Council imposed sanctions on North Korea for its rocket launch in December 2012, North Korea conducted a third nuclear test. This led to a series of antics from the young leader, including a meeting with former NBA star Dennis Rodman, preparations for missile tests, and a pronouncement ending the armistice and declaring a new state of war on the peninsula.  These threats were designed to test ROK President Park Guen-hye, who took office in February. Meanwhile, Seoul and Washington celebrated the one-year anniversary of the US-Korea Free Trade Agreement, agreed to a two-year extension of their civil nuclear agreement, and began preparations for special measures negotiations (a burden-sharing agreement for military forces).

Can you Google “nuclear test” or “the worm”?

The year started with an unlikely visit by Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google, and Bill Richardson, former governor of New Mexico, to North Korea in January.  Schmidt went in his private capacity and toured North Korea’s fledgling computer and internet facilities.  Presumably one of the last frontiers for Google, the country currently has about 15,000 internet users (according to members of the delegation who briefed CSIS upon their return).  Hopes that the trip signified the regime’s interest in reform were dashed when the delegation was not invited to meet Kim Jong Un and Richardson failed in his efforts to gain the release of a detained Korean-American, Kenneth Bae.

To the surprise of many Korea-watchers, the DPRK leader shunned Google, but spent hours conversing, laughing, and breaking bread with the most unlikely of visitors, former National Basketball Association star Dennis Rodman.  Participating in the filming of an HBO VICE documentary, Rodman arrived in the country with a film crew and several members of the Harlem Globetrotters in late-February.  More bizarre than the pictures of the body-pierced, tattooed, and cross-dressing (6’ 7’ in height) Rodman and the plump, Mao-suit donned (estimated 5’5”) North Korean leader swooning over each other in Pyongyang was “the Worm’s” (Rodman’s nickname) interview with George Stephanopoulos upon his return.  Many believed Rodman’s visit appealed to the boy leader’s love of the NBA and the Chicago Bulls (it could of course be because he watched HBO, too!).  This most accidental diplomat told a national television audience that Kim was a “good guy,” that he did not want war, and that all he wanted was for Obama “to call him.” Really?

The casual observer might laugh all of this off as the latest example of reality TV except that the Google and Rodman visits bookended some rather serious actions by the North.  Shortly after UN Security Council Resolution 2087 was passed on Jan. 22, promising significant actions to be taken against North Korea in the event of a further rocket or nuclear test, the country conducted a third nuclear test on Feb. 12.  The test created an “artificial earthquake” of magnitude 4.9-5.1 on the Richter scale, indicating that Pyongyang had detonated a more powerful device than its previous nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009.  North Korea announced that it had successfully conducted a nuclear test using a smaller and miniaturized nuclear device.  And while there were not enough noble gas emissions to determine whether the test was plutonium or uranium-based, the February 2013 nuclear test coupled with the December 2012 satellite launch were clear manifestations that the North is making substantive advances on both its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

In South Korea, the test was seen as a parting shot at the outgoing Lee Myung-bak government and a test to the incoming Park government.  It also sparked a public response.  According to a Korea Gallup opinion survey conducted from Feb. 13 to 15, more than 60 percent of South Koreans were in favor of their country having a nuclear weapon capability.  In Tokyo, Prime Minister Abe Shinzo released a public statement condemning North Korea’s nuclear test and calling upon the UN Security Council (UNSC) to convene promptly to deal with Pyongyang’s repeated violations of its resolutions.  In Washington, the test came on the eve of President Obama’s first State of the Union address of his second term.  He rebuked the test, calling it “a threat to U.S. national security” in a tersely-worded White House statement. Equally frustrated but also embarrassed by Pyongyang’s provocative behavior, Beijing joined Washington in drafting UNSC Resolution 2094 that included mandatory financial measures against North Korea. The resolution was unanimously adopted in the UNSC on March 7.

Pushing to the edge

In March and April, the situation with the North spiraled further downward.  Unlike previous provocation cycles where Pyongyang alternated smile diplomacy with its next provocation, the regime under the young leader escalated tensions by ratcheting up threats of war presumably in response to the start of the annual and routine US-ROK joint military exercises Key Resolve/Foal Eagle 2013.  The tempo and intensity of the hostile rhetoric and threats were unprecedented.  Starting with unilateral nullification of all previous (defunct) nonaggression and denuclearization agreements with South Korea, the North then nullified the Korean Armistice Agreement, threatened a preemptive nuclear strike, released photos of a “US Mainland Strike Plan” that included Washington DC, Hawaii, San Diego, and possibly Austin, Texas, and issued evacuation orders to foreign embassies on the Korean Peninsula.  The table[1] below lists all of the provocative statements by the North in this two-month period:

Date North Korea’s Provocative Statements
March 5, 2013 We will take second and third countermeasures of greater intensity against the reckless hostilities of the United States and all the other enemies. Now that the US imperialists seek to attack the DPRK with nuclear weapons, we will counter them with diversified precision nuclear strike means of Korean style. The army and people of the DPRK have everything including lighter and smaller nukes unlike what we had in the past.  (Korean People’s Army)
March 7, 2013 The revolutionary armed forces of the DPRK will exercise the right to launch a pre-emptive nuclear attack to destroy the strongholds of the aggressors and to defend the supreme interests of the country. (Spokesman for the North Korea’s Foreign Ministry)
March 8, 2013 All agreements on nonaggression reached between the North and the South and the joint declaration on denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula are now nullified. (Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland)
March 8, 2013 We are ready for “all-out war” against our enemies. (Kim Jong Un)
March 10, 2013 We would exercise the right to conduct preemptive nuclear strikes if today’s “Key Resolve” drills were to go ahead. (North Korea’s Foreign Ministry)
March 11, 2013 The Korean Armistice Agreement is to be scrapped completely just from today and the annual training exercises called Key Resolve are an open declaration of a war. (Spokesman for the Supreme Command of the Korean People’s Army (KPA) reported by Rodong Sinmun)
March 12, 2013 We would wipe out a South Korean island Baengnyeong and turn the island into a “sea of fire.” (Kim Jong Un)
*March 13, 2013 North Korea’s Air Force drastically increases jet fighter training flights.  military source in Seoul)
*March 14, 2013 North Korea conducts live-fire drills near a disputed maritime border. (KCNA)
March 20, 2013 North Korea military personnel are standing by to annihilate the US imperialist aggressors, only awaiting an order from Supreme Commander Marshal Kim Jong Un. (KCNA)
*March 20, 2013 North Korea conducts air-raid drills, issuing air raid warnings for its soldiers and citizens. (Korean Central Broadcasting Station, KCBS)
March 20, 2013 US B-52 bomber deployments in the Korean Peninsula prove the aggressive and adventurous nature of the drills as a test nuclear war rehearsal. If the US sends B-52 to Korea again, they will meet catastrophic end by the strong military counteraction of the DPRK. Time has gone when words worked. (KCNA)
March 21, 2013 The U.S. should not forget that Andersen Air Force Base on Guam, where B-52s take off, and naval bases in Japan proper and Okinawa, where nuclear-powered submarines are launched, are within the striking range of our precision strike means. Now that the US started open nuclear blackmail and threat, the DPRK, too, will move to take corresponding military actions. (Spokesman for the Supreme Command of the KPA)
March 25, 2013 Crack storm troops will occupy Seoul and other cities and take 150,000 US citizens as hostage. (In the video, titled “A Short, Three Day War” posted on the North Korean website Uriminzokkiri)
March 26, 2013 We will put on the highest alert all the field artillery units including strategic rocket units and long-range artillery units, which are assigned to strike bases of the US imperialist aggressor troops in the US mainland and on Hawaii and Guam and other operational zone in the Pacific, as well as all the enemy targets in South Korea and its vicinity. (Supreme Command of the KPA)
*March 27, 2013 North Korea cuts its last military hotline with Seoul. (Message from the DPRK head of the delegation, inter-Korean general-level military talks)
*March 29, 2013 North Korea reveals its US mainland strike plan in a map targeting primarily Hawaii, Washington, DC, Austin, Texas and Los Angeles, California. (A picture shown on the report by KCNA)
March 30, 2013 From this moment, the North-South relations will be put at the state of war, and all the issues arousing between the North and the South will be dealt with according to the wartime regulations (KCNA)
March 31, 2013 Nuclear weapons are the “nation’s life,” an important component of the country’s defense, and an asset that wouldn’t be traded even for “billions of dollars.” (Declaration adopted by Kim Jong-un and top party officials)
April 2, 2013 We will restart our 5-megawatt graphite-moderated nuclear reactor in Yongbyon to extract plutonium for nuclear weapons. (KCNA)
*April 4, 2013 North Korea moves its Musudan missiles to the launching site on the east coast of the country. (ROK Ministry of National Defense)
April 5, 2013 All embassies in Pyongyang should prepare to evacuate North Korea because their safety cannot be guaranteed during conflict. (Spokesman for the Russian embassy in Pyongyang, Denis Samsonov)
April 8, 2013 We will tentatively put operation at the Kaesong Industrial Complex on hold. How the situation will develop in the future will entirely depend on the South Korean government’s attitude. (Statement by Kim Yang-gon, Secretary of Central Committee)
April 9, 2013 Foreigners should leave South Korea to avoid getting caught up in the “all-out war, a merciless, sacred, and retaliatory war.” (Korean Asia-Pacific Peace Committee)
April 12, 2013 Japan is always in the cross-hairs of our revolutionary army and if Japan makes a slightest move, the spark of war will touch Japan first. (KCNA)
April 15, 2013 Our retaliatory action will start without any notice from now if anti-North Korean activities continue in South Korea. (“Ultimatum” by the Supreme Command of the KPA)
April 18, 2013 There will be no dialogue until Seoul halts provocations and apologizes.  (Statement by the Policy Department, National Defense Commission)
Apr 20, 2013 We will not give up nuclear weapons. The US should not think about the denuclearization on the peninsula before the world is denuclearized. (Rodong Sinmun)
Apr 25, 2013 Our forces are ready to launch intercontinental ballistic missiles and kamikaze-like nuclear attacks at the US. (Statement by the North Korean generals including Ri Pyong-chol and Kim Rak-gyom. Reported by KCNA)
Apr 26, 2013 We will take “final, decisive and serious measures” if President Park Geun-Hye’s government continues to issue ultimatums. (National Defense Commission)

(* indicates North Korea’s hostile response and military actions taken)

The threats of a nuclear strike on the US prompted “wall-to-wall” coverage by cable news networks, leading to the impression that the peninsula was on the brink of war.  In Washington, experts dismissed North Korea’s ability to launch a missile strike on the US mainland and downplayed the possibility of US military engagement.  However, there were palpable concerns that the young leader might inadvertently start a military confrontation with South Korea that could easily escalate out of control.  Questions arose as to whether the young leader simply had no idea of how dangerous the situation was.

In response to the threats, the US undertook several measures.  On March 15, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced the deployment of 14 additional missile interceptors in Alaska and California, sending a clear signal of US readiness to counteract any long-range missile threats from North Korea. The US also signed a new agreement with South Korea to cooperate and coordinate their combined responses to North Korea’s possible conventional military provocations. Signing this Combined Counter-Provocation Plan bolsters deterrence against North Korea’s limited, local provocations but it also helps avert inadvertent escalation on the peninsula.  On March 28, the US dispatched two nuclear-capable B-2 stealth bombers on a simulated bombing run from Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri to the South Korean island of Jikdo off Gunsan.  This mission had been part of regular Foal Eagle training exercises in the past, but was publicly disclosed this time to signal US extended nuclear deterrence commitments to South Korea and Japan.  On April 1, US F-22 stealth fighter jets were also dispatched from Japan to participate in Foal Eagle drills following North Korea’s warning of a “state of war” on the Korean Peninsula. In response to North Korea’s missile threats to US military bases in the Pacific, the Pentagon announced plans to deploy to Guam the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system, a sophisticated anti-missile defense system that can shoot down incoming short- medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles.  All of these actions were designed not just to bolster defense and deterrence commitments to the allies, but also to signal to the young leader in the North that he was drawing close to a redline with his action, in case he was too young and inexperienced to understand that.

Amidst the tensions, Secretary Kerry made his first trip to Asia in April as North Korea appeared to be gearing up for multiple missile tests in celebration of the 101st birthday of Kim Il Sung. The North pulled back from the test possibly for technical reasons. Before April ended, tensions shifted to inter-Korean relations when Pyongyang expelled all workers from the Kaesong Industrial Complex, which eventually led to the shutdown of the facility.

Alliance “hwangap”

2013 marks the 60th anniversary of the alliance as well as the armistice agreement that ended the Korean War.  Earlier this year, Park’s transition team sent its first special envoy to Beijing, raising questions as to whether she was shifting in the direction of China.  The Chinese are clearly infatuated with the daughter of Park Chung-hee as Korea’s new leader – Xi Jinping reportedly broke with protocol and opened her letter immediately upon receiving it from the envoy.  Park’s first overseas trip as head of state, however, was to the US which her advisors assured was a sign that her center of gravity remains the 60-year old alliance, even as she seeks to build trust with China. The US rolled out the red carpet given the historic significance of this president, including an address to a joint session of Congress,  an honor rarely bestowed on heads of state, but one that six South Korean presidents have enjoyed (as opposed to one Japanese prime minister).

Yet even birthdays do not allow one to escape realities.  The alliance has several issues to deal with including the timetable for operational control (OPCON) transition, the special measures negotiations (burden-sharing agreement), and civil nuclear cooperation.  The most pressing over the last several months was the last of these.

With the announcement of the first summit between Presidents Park and Obama in May, the hope was that a successful conclusion of a new US-ROK civil nuclear cooperation agreement would be the deliverable for the meeting. However, this was not possible given the need for Congressional approval of any new agreement – never mind that negotiators from both sides were hard pressed to meet a timetable of early summer of 2013 to cut a deal. In April, Secretary of State John Kerry and Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se met to discuss the negotiation deadlock and restart official negotiations on April 16-17. But both sides remained entrenched in their positions. The ROK demanded advanced US consent on its right to enrich uranium and reprocess spent fuel, while the US remained opposed to granting such consent. In the end, the two sides agreed to a two-year extension of the current agreement on April 24 rather than seek a revised agreement.  Coming 13 days before the summit, this decision gave Park some political face in the absence of a new deal, and it also gave the private sector a degree of stability, at least for two more years.  While an extension was certainly better than an expiration of the agreement, few experts are optimistic that the wide gap between the US and ROK negotiating positions can be narrowed in just two years without some sort of high-level political intervention.

KORUS and TPP

March marked the one-year anniversary of the US-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS).  From the implementation of KORUS until the end of February 2013, benefits were clearly evident on FTA beneficiary items following two rounds of tariff cuts and non-tariff barrier elimination.  Both the US and South Korea saw an increase in exports in their FTA beneficiary items by 4.1 percent y/y and 10.4 percent y/y, respectively.  By contrast, US-Korea bilateral trade volume in non-FTA beneficiary items decreased in both countries.  US overall exports to Korea dropped by 9.1 percent y/y while South Korea’s exports to the US increased by a mild 1.4 percent y/y, according to US Korea Connect.   These numbers may not look terribly impressive, but they have to be discounted for the global economic downturn and the need for more than one year’s figures to gain a full sense of the positive effect. In spite of global economic headwinds, the fact that both countries saw an increase in the exports of FTA beneficiary items is an indicator of benefits of KORUS FTA for both countries’ bilateral trade.  For both sides, full implementation of the agreement remains a key agenda item.

The US continues to probe South Korea’s interest in joining TPP.  South Koreans have responded that their priority is a China-ROK FTA, but in the past months there were some whispers that the Koreans are warming to TPP.  Japan’s announcement of its joining the negotiations in February gave TPP much more weight, and this registered with the South Koreans.  The realization that joining TPP might also give Seoul more leverage in their FTA talks with China appears to be another factor.  For the moment, Koreans will be watching closely from the sidelines and will pay special attention to how Japan is handled in the negotiations.  If Tokyo is given exceptions, this will reduce Seoul’s appetite for joining.

[1] Made with research assistance from Sun-myung Oh, Andy Sau Ngai Lim, and Youmin Kim

Jan. 1, 2013: US House of Representatives passes the North Korean Child Welfare Act of 2012 calling for the secretary of state to take measures to aid the North Korean children who live in dangerous environments outside of North Korea.

Jan. 2, 2013: House of Representatives passes a resolution condemning North Korean December 2012 rocket launch.

Jan. 3, 2013: US Department of State spokeswoman Victoria Nuland states that the upcoming trip to North Korea by Eric Schmidt, the executive chairman of Google, is strictly private and does not carry any messages from the US government.

Jan. 4, 2013: US Forces Korea (USFK) defers again tour normalization, which would have increased the number of US troops allowed to bring their families into South Korea.

Jan. 7-10, 2013: Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt visit North Korea.

Jan. 16, 2013:  US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell leads a delegation to Seoul and meets ROK President-elect Park Geun-hye.

Jan. 22, 2013:  UN Security Council unanimously adopts resolution 2087 to sanction North Korea over its December 2012 ballistic missile launch.

Jan. 24, 2013: Glyn Davies, US special representative for North Korea policy, meets ROK nuclear envoy Lim Sung-nam in Seoul.

Jan. 25, 2013: Special Representative Davies travels to China and meets Vice Foreign Minister Fu Ying and Special Representative for Korean Peninsula Affairs Wu Dawei in Beijing.

Jan. 28, 2013: Special Representative Davies meets Japanese counterpart Sugiyama Shinsuke in Tokyo.

Jan. 29, 2013: ROK Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok states that the US and ROK have been jointly conducting small-scale crisis management task force in preparation for a possible third nuclear test by North Korea.

Jan. 30-31, 2013: Mark Lippert, assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific security affairs, Lim Kwan Bin, ROK deputy defense minister for policy, and Nishi Masanori, director general of the Japanese Defense Ministry’s Defense Policy discuss regional security issues.

Jan. 31, 2013: ROK Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin orders fast development and deployment of long-range ballistic missiles to reach all of North Korea.

Feb. 3, 2013: Secretary of State John Kerry and Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan discuss North Korea’s possible nuclear test on the phone and agree on the need to “ensure that North Korea understands that it will face significant consequences from the international community if it continues its provocative behavior.”

Feb. 4-7, 2013: US and South Korea conduct a joint naval exercise in the East Sea.

Feb. 5, 2013: Secretary Kerry has a phone call with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi to discuss UNSC Resolution 2087 commitments.

Feb. 7, 2013: ROK delegation led by Lee Hahn-koo, the floor leader of the ruling Saenuri Party, meets Under Secretary for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman in Washington to discuss revision of the 123 civil nuclear agreement and KORUS FTA implementation.

Feb. 8, 2013: ROK presidential delegation meets White House National Security Advisor Tom Donilon and delivers President-elect Park’s message to President Obama. The delegation also meets Secretary Kerry, Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns, Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, and Special Representative Davis.

Feb. 12, 2013: North Korea announces it conducted a third underground nuclear test.

Feb. 12, 2013: President Obama calls North Korea’s nuclear test “a highly provocative act” and vows to pursue firm action in response. He also urges North Korea to meet international obligations at the first State of the Union Address of his second term.

Feb. 13, 2013: Presidents Obama and Lee Myung-bak discuss North Korea’s nuclear test and agree to work closely together to seek a range of measures aimed at impeding North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs and reducing the risk of proliferation.

Feb. 13, 2013: Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin discuss collaboration in the wake of North Korea’s nuclear test. Panetta reaffirms US commitment, including extended deterrence commitment, to defend the ROK from aggression.

Feb. 14, 2013: ROK and US launch a three-day joint naval exercise on the East Coast of the Korean Peninsula to test combat readiness in response to North Korea’s recent nuclear test.

Feb. 14, 2013: House of Representatives passes a bill condemning North Korea’s provocations and repeated violations of multiple UN Security Council resolutions.

Feb. 20, 2013: North Korean diplomat Jon Yong-ryong threatens to inflict the “final destruction” of South Korea at a UN Conference on Disarmament meeting held in Geneva.

Feb. 20, 2013: US Ambassador to the ROK Sung Kim expresses opposition to South Korea’s nuclear armament and the redeployment of US tactical nuclear weapons to the peninsula.

Feb. 25, 2013: Park Geun-hye is inaugurated as South Korea’s first female president.

Feb. 25, 2013: US Senate adopts a bill condemning North Korea for its nuclear test and urges tougher action against the country.

Feb. 26, 2013: President Park and US National Security Advisor Tom Donilon meet at the Blue House and discuss cooperation over North Korea’s nuclear programs.

Feb. 28, 2013:  Former NBA player Dennis Rodman watches a basketball game and has dinner with Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang.

March 1, 2013:  South Korea and the US begin Foal Eagle, a two-month military field training exercise focused on the Korean Peninsula.

March 2, 2013: Two US soldiers are accused of firing a BB gun at pedestrians and leading police on a 12-km high-speed car chase in Seoul.

March 5, 2013: North Korea threatens to nullify the Korean Armistice Agreement if the US and South Korea conduct Key Resolve military exercise. Jay Carney, White House spokesperson, responds by stating that North Korea will achieve “nothing by threats or provocations.”

March 6, 2013: North Korea threatens to turn Seoul and Washington into “seas of fire” through a “precise nuclear strike.”

March 6, 2013: Maj. Gen. Kim Yong-hyun, the ROK joint chiefs of staff’s head of operations, says the ROK military will retaliate at point of origin, supporting forces, and command structures to the next North Korean provocation.

March 7, 2013: North Korea vows to launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike against the US. Several hours later, the UN Security Council unanimously adopts resolution 2094 imposing tougher sanctions on North Korea.

March 8, 2013: DPRK announces that it is nullifying all nonaggression and denuclearization agreements with South Korea. ROK Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok says if North Korea attacks with a nuclear weapon, Kim Jong Un’s regime will be “erased from the earth.”

March 10, 2013: North Korea’s official newspaper Rodong Sinmun claims its military has entered the “final all-out war stage, awaiting the final order to strike.” It also warns that the country’s nuclear arms are prepared for combat.

March 11, 2013: DPRK cuts the Red Cross telephone line that serves as a hotline with the ROK.

March 11, 2013: Rodong Sinmun writes that the time for a showdown war is at hand and claims the Korean Armistice Agreement to be null and void.

March 11-25, 2013: South Korea and the US conduct annual Key Resolve military exercises.

March 14, 2013:  President Obama and China’s new president Xi Jinping agree on the need for cooperation on the denuclearization of North Korea during their phone call conversation

March 15, 2013: Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announces plans for 14 additional ground-based missile interceptors in Alaska and California to counter North Korean military threats.

March 16, 2013: Secretary Kerry congratulates South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se in a phone call and suggests the ROK and US work more closely together at the UN Security Council, and on global issues including climate change.

March 17, 2013: Drunken US soldiers are arrested for allegedly assaulting local South Korean police in two separate cases.

March 18, 2013: Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter meets Foreign Minister Yun and Defense Minister Kim in Seoul.

March 18, 2013: ROK lawmaker Chung Mong-joon of the Saenuri Party says in a CNN interview that it is necessary to redeploy tactical nuclear weapon in South Korea.

March 18, 2013: The 8th US Army public affairs officer vows to prevent misconduct of soldiers after a recent series of criminal incidents involving US soldiers.

March 22, 2013: ROK Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Jung Seoung-jo, and Commander of the Combined Forces Command James Thurman, sign a combined counter-provocation plan, which guarantees a joint counterattack against any surgical strike on the South from the North.

March 25, 2013: South Korea’s Navy conducts maritime drills in the western sea.

March 25, 2013: North Korea stages a national-scale combined army and naval exercise near Wonsan, Kangwon Province.

March 26, 2013: KCNA releases a statement saying the DPRK military has ordered all of its artillery units, including strategic rocket and long-range artillery units, to adopt “combat readiness posture No. 1” in order to strike the continental US, its overseas bases and South Korea and in retaliation against US B-52 bombers flights over the Korean Peninsula.

March 27, 2013: North Korea announces that it has cut a military hotline with South Korea. State Department’s deputy spokesman Patrick Ventrell condemns North Korea for severing the hotline but says the US will maintain its own direct communication channel with North Korea.

March 27, 2013: Defense Secretary Hagel and Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin speak by phone reaffirming the US commitment to South Korean defense, including extended deterrence. They also discuss the plan to increase US ground-based interceptors and early warning and tracking radar in response to the North Korean threat.
March 28, 2013: US Strategic Command sends B-2 stealth bombers to conduct a simulated attack on the Korean Peninsula as part of the ongoing Foal Eagle training exercise.

March 28, 2013: Rodong Sinmun calls on countries involved in the “nuclear standoff” on the Korean Peninsula to come forward with their views on what future actions should be taken that can either lead to war or peace.

March 28, 2013: Secretary of Defense Hagel says that the US has to be prepared for “any eventuality” on the Korean Peninsula during a news conference at the Pentagon.

March 29, 2013: KCNA says Kim Jong Un has ordered the strategic rockets to be on standby so that they may strike the US mainland, its military bases in the Pacific and those in south Korea.”

March 29, 2013: President Park meets Bob Corker, US Senate Foreign Relations Committee ranking Republican, in Seoul and asks for congressional attention to ROK-US nuclear pact and for revisions that enable South Korea to expand its peaceful use of atomic power.

March 31, 2013: US F-22 stealth fighter jets from Japan arrive at Osan Air Base to participate in US-ROK Foal Eagle field exercise.

April 1, 2013: President Park orders the military take a strong response without political considerations in the event of any provocation by North Korea.

April 2, 2013: Foreign Minister Yun meets Secretary Kerry in Washington.

April 2, 2013: North Korea announces its intentions to restart the five-megawatt nuclear reactor at Yongbyon. State Department spokeswoman Nuland reiterates that the US will not accept the DPRK as a nuclear state.

April 3, 2013: North Korea bans South Korean workers from entering the Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC) and only allows those inside to go home. Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin says the military is considering all available options, including possible military action, to ensure the safety of the South Korean workers in Kaesong.

April 3, 2013: Foreign Minister Yun meets Secretary Hagel, Deputy Secretary of State Burns and National Security Advisor Donilon.

April 3, 2013: In an interview with ABC News, Gen. Thurman calls the situation in Korea “volatile” and “dangerous,” and fears that a “miscalculation” can cause “a kinetic provocation.”

April 3, 2013: Secretary Hagel calls North Korean behavior a “real, clear danger and threat to the US and its Asia-Pacific allies” in a speech made at the National Defense University.

April 3, 2013: The Pentagon announces that it will deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system to Guam in response to the North Korean threat.

April 4, 2013: South Korean government officials confirm that North Korea has moved Musudan missiles to the East Coast.

April 4, 2013: Korean People’s Army announces that they have “final approval for merciless operations” against the US.

April 5, 2013: North Korea sends warning messages to foreign diplomatic missions asking all embassies in Pyongyang to move out for their security.

April 5, 2013: White House spokesman Carney urges North Korea to stop its provocations.

April 8, 2013: KWP Secretary in Charge of South Korean Affairs Kim Yang-gon announces North Korea will tentatively suspend operations at the KIC.

April 9, 2013: DPRK’s Asia-Pacific Peace Committee releases a statement that foreigners living in South Korea should work out measures for evacuation to avoid being hurt in the event of war.

April 9, 2013: Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se warns North Korea that it will gain “absolute nothing” from its threats and provocations.

April 9, 2013: ROK lawmaker Chung Mong-joon calls for South Korea to withdraw from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty in the face of the North Korean threat, develop its own nuclear weapons, and for the US to redeploy nuclear weapons back to the Korean Peninsula.

April 9, 2013: Adm. Samuel Locklear, commander of US Pacific Command, testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee that the US and South Korean forces are confident in their ability to intercept a North Korean ballistic missile.

April 9, 2013: US Forces Korea hands over the soldier in the BB gun shooting incident to the Seoul Correction Service after South Korea made the request under the “sympathetic consideration” clause of the Status of Forces Agreement.

April 10, 2013: US-ROK Combined Forces Command raises surveillance status from Watchcon 3 to Watchcon 2 to monitor an imminent missile test by North Korea.

April 10, 2013: ROK Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning announces the results from its investigation into the cyber-attacks of March 20-26, and identify the DPRK’s Reconnaissance General Bureau as the mastermind behind the attacks.

April 10, 2013: Secretary Hagel warns that North Korea, “with its bellicose rhetoric, its actions, has been skating very close to a dangerous line” and that it should be “neutralized” during a press conference at the Pentagon.

April 11, 2013: Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae asks for the KIC standoff to be normalized through dialogue.

April 11, 2013: Representative Doug Lamborn (R-CO) discloses a new assessment by the Defense Intelligence Agency which concludes with “moderate confidence” for the first time that North Korea has the capability to make a nuclear weapon small enough to be deliverable by a ballistic missile. This assessment was later refuted by the Department of Defense and also by the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.

April 12, 2013: Secretary Kerry warns North Korea not to carry out the Musudan missile tests during a press conference with Foreign Minister Yun in Seoul, but also stresses that the US is open to talks in order to accomplish the goals of denuclearization and reunification. He reiterates that North Korea will not be accepted as a nuclear power.

April 12, 2013: Secretary Kerry meets President Park at the Blue House and pledges firm and strong US support for South Korea against North Korean threats and provocations.

April 14, 2013: DPRK’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea calls President Park’s offer to “activate the trust-building process” a “cunning ploy to hide the South’s policy of confrontation and mislead its responsibility for putting the KIC into a crisis.”

April 14, 2013: Korean People’s Army issues an ultimatum to South Korea vowing retaliation without notice if anti-North Korean activities continue.

April 14, 2013: Senate Committee on Armed Services releases the report “Inquiry into U.S. costs and allied contributions to support the U.S. military presence overseas,” in which the committee finds that “South Korea’s contribution has not kept pace with the growth in U.S. costs,” in referring to burden-sharing in the alliance.

April 16, 2013: KCNA publishes a statement by Supreme Command of the Korean People’s Army that Seoul must apologize first for its “hostile acts” before dialogue can resume.

April 16, 2013: President Obama says in an interview that “based on our current intelligence assessments, we do not think that they have that capacity,” to arm a ballistic missile with nuclear weapon, but cautions that the US has to “make sure that we are dealing with every contingency out there” when it comes to North Korean threats.

April 18, 2013: ROK Foreign Ministry spokesman Cho Tai-young calls North Korea’s conditions for dialogue “totally incomprehensible” and “illogical,” and asks for them to “make the right choice.”

April 24, 2013: US and ROK sign a two-year extension of the 1972 US-ROK Nonproliferation Agreement after failing to revise the agreement, moving the deadline to March 2016.

April 25, 2013: Unification Ministry proposes talks with the DRPK to resolve and normalize the KIC issue and warns of “grave action” if the North rejects the offer.

April 30, 2013: US-ROK exercise Foal Eagle concludes.