Current Relations With North Korea

Current Relations With North Korea

As a result of the six-party talks, Kim Jong-il once again promised to dismantle his country's nuclear weapons program in September 2005. The U.S. and South Korea, in exchange, promised to remove any and all nuclear weapons from the Korean peninsula, and the U.S. promised not to attack North Korea.

In October 2006, just over a year after its second pledge to cease work on its nuclear weapons program, North Korea performed its first test of a nuclear bomb. The nuclear explosion from North Korea's device was estimated at less than a kiloton; the Hiroshima bombing in 1945 yielded about a ten kiloton explosion. The United States and other countries immediately condemned the action, and the United Nations Security Council immediately imposed sanctions that banned the sale of nuclear materials to or from North Korea and tightened the country's trade regulations.

The Japanese government also took a firm stance on North Korea after the nuclear tests, barring North Korean citizens, products, and ships from entering Japan. It has recently moved for a ban of exports to North Korea also. Both Japan and South Korea had ceased their aid efforts in North Korea following July 2006 missile tests. The U.S. State Department has included North Korea in its list of State Sponsors of Terrorism. There are an estimated 40,000 U.S. troops currently stationed in the Korean peninsula.

North Korea's May and June 2009 missile launches and deployment of its longest-range missile drew criticism from the current Obama administration which urged its allies to "stand up" to North Korea. Obama called North Korea's tests "reckless" and a "grave threat" to international security and urged that the US and international community take action in response, noting that North Korea had abandoned a previous pledge to halt its nuclear program and has with its actions violated United Nations' resolutions. North Korea's continued insistence on growing its nuclear program despite the sanctions that have been imposed on it does not bode well for the future.

The escalating tensions between North Korea and the United States have also spilled over into South Korea. South Korea's government announced on May 26, 2009 that it would join a U.S.-led naval expedition to stop any shipments of materials usable in making weapons of mass destruction. The following day, North Korea threatened South Korea and declared the North-South Armistice signed at the end of the Korean War to be null and void.

Unfortunately, while North Korea continues to flex its military muscle, its population continues to suffer great oppression, hunger, and the violation of its basic human rights.

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