North Korea Diplomacy Scorecard
By Michael Fuchs, Abigail Bard, and Mathew Brady
This analysis was published by the Center for American Progress, www.americanprogress.org.
Michael Fuchs is a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress. Abigail Bard is a research assistant for Asia Policy at the Center.Mathew
Brady was the data visualization consultant and developer for this interactive.
Correction, September 11, 2018: This interactive previously incorrectly stated the number of nuclear weapons that North Korea could
create with its fissile material. That sentence has been removed.
As the United States and South Korea engage in diplomatic negotiations with North Korea, there are a number of issues on the table, from human
rights and military relations, to North Korea’s nuclear program. Some of these issues hit closer to core of making the Korean Peninsula a safer,
more secure place, while others are beneficial but more peripheral. Use this interactive to track the issues and their impact levels.
North Korea Diplomacy Scorecard
The United States and South Korea are engaged in diplomatic negotiations with North Korea, and this scorecard highlights the state of play for the
different issues on the table.
Signs of Progress
Confidence building--( LOW IMPACT )
*North Korea returned the remains of 55 U.S. troops
On July 27, 2018, North Korea returned the remains of 55 U.S. service members who died during the Korean War after a month-long delay.
Their return was promised as part of the agreement made at the Singapore summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean
leader Kim Jong Un. The remains are currently undergoing DNA testing in Hawaii.
*North Korea exploded tunnels at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site
North Korea announced on April 21, 2018, that it would close its nuclear test site, Punggye-ri. On May 24, 2018, North Korea appeared to blow
up a series of tunnels at Punggye-ri in front of foreign journalists. This gesture is reversible within “weeks to months,” according to a U.S.
*North Korea began dismantling rocket launch site
According to satellite imagery, North Korea began dismantling facilities at Sohae Satellite Launching Station in July 2018. The U.S. intelligence
community considers these measures reversible “within months.”
*North and South Korea established a direct communication line between their leaders
In late April, North and South Korea established the first direct phone line between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in.
*North and South Korea held family reunions at the Mount Kumgang resort
Between August 20, 2018, and August 26, 2018, North and South Korea held a series of family reunions at the Mount Kumgang resort in North
Korea. These reunions brought together relatives who were separated by the Korean War.
*North and South Korea plan to hold a third summit meeting
Kim and Moon met for the first time on April 27, 2018, and again on May 26, 2018. They plan on having a third summit meeting from September
18 to 20, 2018, in Pyongyang.
*The United States and North Korea held a summit meeting
President Trump and Kim met in Singapore on June 12, 2018—the first meeting between sitting leaders of both countries. There is talk of a
second summit between the two leaders.
*The United States suspends joint military exercises with South Korea
After the Singapore summit, President Trump announced that he would freeze joint military exercises conducted by the United States and
South Korea. Trump has called these exercises “very provocative,” and some analysts argue that the suspension of the military exercises will
diffuse tensions. Other defense experts are concerned that suspending exercises will harm U.S. and South Korean military readiness.
*Pompeo appoints envoy for North Korea
On August 23, 2018, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the appointment of former congressional and White House staffer Stephen
Biegun as the U.S. special representative for North Korea.
*Trump canceled Pompeo’s trip to North Korea
On August 24, President Trump announced via Twitter that Secretary of State Pompeo’s planned fourth trip to North Korea—announced just a
day earlier—had been canceled, citing a lack of progress with respect to the efforts to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula.
*North Korea has between 10 and 60 nuclear weapons
Analysts suspect that North Korea has somewhere between 10 and 60 nuclear weapons. It is impossible to get a precise count of the
country’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD) without international inspections of North Korea, which North Korea has not agreed to
*North Korea is producing fissile material
During his testimony to the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee on July 25, 2018, Secretary of State Mike Pompeoconfirmed that
North Korea continues to produce fissile material. Fissile materials, such as highly enriched uranium and plutonium, are substances
that are a necessary component of nuclear weapons. Experts believe that North Korea can produce up to seven new nuclear weapons
*North Korea has an active chemical and biological weapons programs
In addition to its nuclear weapons program, North Korea manufactures and develops chemical and biological weapons. Agents used
stockpiles of nerve agent VX in the 2017 assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s half brother, Kim Jong Nam.
*North Korea is manufacturing ICBMs
It was reported on July 30, 2018, that U.S. spy agencies have seen evidence that North Korea is continuing to manufacture intercontinental
ballistic missiles (ICBMs). While North Korea has yet to demonstrate that its ICBMs can re-enter the atmosphere, these missiles put the
majority of the United States in range of North Korea’s nuclear warheads.
*North and South Korea agree to reduce military tensions
In the Panmunjom Declaration, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in agreed to work toward a “peace
regime” on the Korean Peninsula. South Korea said it plans to reduce the number of troops at guard posts along the Korean Demilitarized
*The last North Korean missile test was in November 2017
North Korea has not conducted a detectable missile test since November 29, 2017. On April 21, 2018, Kim announced that North Korea
would stop testing nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles.
Sanctions & Incentives
*North Korea continues violating U.S. and U.N. economic sanctions
The U.N. Security Council has imposed sanctions on North Korea that affect approximately 90 percent of North Korea’s export revenue, and
the United States has imposed a number of sanctions that prevent North Korea from accessing the U.S. financial system. Despite this,
North Korea continues to violate sanctions by manufacturing nuclear weapons and importing illicit oil through ship-to-ship transfers, among
*China and Russia are undermining sanctions
Reports suggest that China has loosened its enforcement of the U.N. Secretary Council’s sanctions against North Korea. The United States
recently sanctioned Russian ships that are engaging in ship-to-ship transfers of oil to North Korea in an effort to circumvent sanctions.
*The North Korean regime is imprisoning tens of thousands of people in labor camps
The U.N. General Assembly estimates that North Korea is keeping between 80,000 and 120,000 people in forced labor camps. These
prisoners are often denied due process and the right to a fair trial. It’s also common for political dissidents to be imprisoned.
*North Korea executes political dissidents
Political dissidence is a crime that can be punished by death in North Korea. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s political rivals have been
executed, including his half brother, Kim Jong Nam, and uncle Jang Song Thaek.
*Trump repeatedly praised Kim, despite allegations of human rights abuse
After meeting Kim, President Donald Trump said of Kim, “He’s the head of a country, and I mean he’s the strong head. Don’t let anyone think
anything different. He speaks and his people sit up at attention. I want my people to do the same.” He also called Kim “honorable” but
refused to explain why.