North Korea 2018
North Korea. When Kim Jong Un declared at the end of last year that North Korea became a nuclear weapon whose robots could reach the US mainland, the country’s military capability was toned down. Instead, Kim Jong Un emphasized that North Korea’s highest priority was economic development. During the year he worked for relief from international sanctions against North Korea, while emphasizing that North Korea could cope with the sanctions. According to Countryaah.com, Pyongyang is the capital city of North Korea, a country located in Eastern Asia. When the country celebrated its 70th anniversary in September with a customary military parade in the capital, Pyongyang, no long-range robots were exposed. However, it was teeming with banners with messages of economic development.
In January, the first official two-year meeting was held between representatives from North and South Korea. The talks were held at the demilitarized zone of the border town of Panmunjom and led the countries to agree to initiate military talks to reduce tensions on the Korean Peninsula. In addition, North Korea confirmed that the country would participate in a sports delegation during the Winter Olympics in South Korea.
In February, the United States government stated that North Korea used the nerve gas VX in the assassination of Kim Jong Nam, who was Kim Jong Un’s half-brother. The murder took place at an airport in Malaysia in 2017. As a result of the incident, which was a violation of international law, the United States imposed additional financial sanctions on North Korea.
North Korea’s foreign minister Ri Yong Ho visited Stockholm in March. According to Sweden’s Foreign Minister Margot Wallström, the countries would discuss the security situation and Sweden’s protectionist mandate. Sweden established diplomatic contacts with North Korea in the 1970s and has a special role as consular protectionist for, for example, the United States, which lacks representation in North Korea.
The world’s eyes were directed towards the Korean Peninsula in April when Kim Jong Un met South Korea’s President Moon Jae In at the demilitarized zone in Panmunjom. The meeting was described as historic when Kim Jong Un as the first North Korean leader took a step on South Korean soil – to then take Moon Jae In in his hand and lead him across the border to the North Korean side.
At the summit, leaders agreed to strive for a nuclear-free Korea and that regular talks should be held between the countries. To the surprise of the outside world, last year’s frosty noises, which in a magic trick, had been transformed into broad promises of peace and reconciliation. North and South Korea promised to dismantle their propaganda speakers at the border, and plans for reunification meetings for Korean families were initiated. In addition, North Korea set its watches to the same time zone as South Korea, based on Abbreviationfinder.
In May, North Korea released three Americans who have been jailed accused of, among other things, espionage. According to both Swedish and international media, Sweden played an important role in the release when the Americans had been discussed during Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho’s visit to Stockholm.
In the same month, North Korea destroyed a test facility in Punggye-ri, in which the country has been testing nuclear weapons since 2006. Before the blast, international media companies such as AP, CNN and CBS were invited to witness the event.
On the Singaporean island of Sentosa, another historic summit was held in June when Kim Jong Un met US President Donald Trump. It was the first time a North Korean leader met a sitting US president. The talks resulted in a written agreement in which Kim and Trump promised to work for “total nuclear disarmament in the Korean Peninsula”. During a press conference, Donald Trump said that US recurring military exercises with South Korea should be stopped. However, sanctions against North Korea would be maintained until further notice.
A week later, Kim Jong Un was visiting China to meet President Xi Jinping. The visit was Kim’s third in China since March. According to the Chinese state-controlled TV channel CCTV, the countries discussed the prospects of a nuclear disarmament on the Korean Peninsula and North Korea’s opportunities to develop the economy.
At the end of June, North and South Korea began talks about connecting an existing railway that runs from Seoul in South Korea via Pyongyang and on to Sinuiju in northern North Korea. The rail has long been cut at the border between the countries.
Kim Jong Un also proposed to build a “peace” highway from South Korea, through North Korea, to China. The project would facilitate trade in the region and also fit into China’s ambition to build a new silk road around the world.
In July, North Korea sent the remains to some 50 American soldiers killed in the Korean War. The handover took place following an agreement made on a visit by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to North Korea earlier that month.
The tone between the US and North Korea hardened somewhat after Pompeo’s North Korea visit, when Pompeo said sanctions against North Korea would remain until the country scrapped its nuclear weapons program and stopped developing ballistic robots. In a public statement, North Korea said US demands were gangsterous.
According to a report submitted to the UN Security Council in August, it was stated that North Korea continued to manufacture nuclear weapons and missile programs. North Korea was also accused of trying to sell weapons to countries in Africa and the Middle East. Another report by an expert panel at the UN in February stated that there was evidence that North Korea was cooperating militarily with Syria to develop robots and chemical weapons. In addition, North Korea has avoided international sanctions against the country by obtaining fuel by illegal means. According to BBC reports, the number of foreign tankers loading oil and coal to North Korean ships had increased. The UN estimated that North Korea earned around US $ 200 million on illegal trade between January and September last year.
Both China and the Russian Federation have been accused of continuing to trade with North Korea stealthily, and in August, South Korea’s customs authority stated that three South Korean companies violated UN sanctions and imported coal from North Korea via the Russian Federation, where the coal’s country of origin was changed to the Russian Federation.
For the first time in three years, in August, North and South Korean families were allowed to reunite. The reunification meeting took place in North Korea. There, the selected families were allowed to meet family members for three days that they had not seen since the outbreak of the Korean War.
In September, the leaders of North and South Korea met for the third time since April. During the meeting, held in North Korea’s capital Pyongyang, Moon Jae In announced that North Korea planned to close the country’s primary robot testing and satellite launch facility at the Tongchang-ri robotic base. According to US TV channel CNN, North Korea would also shut down Yongbyon, one of North Korea’s most important nuclear weapons programs. The disarmament would be conditional on the US agreeing to similar concessions. For example, the United States withdrew all US nuclear weapons from the Korean Peninsula, according to media speculation.
CNN stated that Moon Jae In and Kim Jong Un also agreed to jointly apply for the hosting of the 2032 Summer Olympics and to begin building roads and railways between the countries already next year. In addition, 800,000 mines along the border between North and South Korea would be removed, which began in October.
In November, North Korea’s state news agency stated that North Korea was considering returning to its previous strategy and starting manufacturing nuclear weapons if the United States did not withdraw its sanctions.
The same month, researchers at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington revealed that North Korea had at least 13 secret bases in operation with the capability to fire nuclear-powered robots. In addition, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) stated that it was suspected that North Korea was about to expand its operations at the Yongbyon nuclear plant.