North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s threat to show the world a new strategic weapon and possibly resume long-range missile tests is another dramatic turn in his high-stakes summitry with President Donald Trump.
Some key moments in North Korea-U.S. diplomacy:
Jan. 1, 2018: Kim uses his annual New Year’s address to call for improved relations with South Korea though adds that he has a nuclear button on his desk. Trump tweets that he has a bigger and more powerful nuclear button, adding “and my Button works!”
March 5-6, 2018: South Korean presidential envoys meet with Kim in Pyongyang and report he is willing to discuss his nuclear program with the United States.
March 8, 2018: South Korean envoys meet Trump at the White House and deliver an invitation from Kim to meet with Trump, who accepts.
April 21, 2018: North Korea unilaterally suspends its nuclear and ICBM tests and says it will shift its focus to developing its economy. Trump tweets: “This is very good news for North Korea and the World.”
April 27, 2018: Kim holds a summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in. The leaders make vague vows for denuclearization and peace.
May 9, 2018: U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visits Pyongyang to prepare for a Trump-Kim summit. North Korea releases three Americans who had been imprisoned.
June 12, 2018: Trump and Kim meet in Singapore for the first summit between the countries’ leaders since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War. They issue an aspirational statement on a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula without describing when and how it would occur.
Jan. 1, 2019: Kim in his New Year’s Day speech says he hopes to continue his nuclear summitry with Trump but also that he would seek a “new way” if the United States persists with sanctions and pressure against the North.
Feb. 27-28, 2019: Trump and Kim meet in Hanoi, Vietnam, for their second summit. The meeting breaks down after the Americans reject North Korean demands for major sanctions relief in exchange for a partial surrender of its nuclear capabilities.
April 13, 2019: Kim sets the year’s end as a deadline for the Trump administration to offer mutually acceptable terms for an agreement to salvage the diplomacy.
May 9, 2019: North Korea fires two short-range missiles toward the sea in its second launch in five days, ending a pause in ballistic testing and ramping up pressure on Washington over the slow pace in negotiations.
June 30, 2019: Trump holds an impromptu summit with Kim at the inter-Korean border and becomes the first U.S. president to cross over into North Korean territory. The leaders agree to resume working-level talks.
Oct. 3, 2019: North Korea says it carried out its first underwater-launched ballistic missile test in three years. The missile, which possibly could be launched from a submarine, represents the North’s most high-profile weapons test since the start of diplomacy in 2018.
Oct. 10, 2019: North Korea threatens to resume nuclear and ICBM tests days after the collapse of the working-level talks in Sweden, which North Korean officials blamed on the Americans’ “old stance and attitude.”
Dec. 3, 2019: North Korea says the Trump administration is running out of time to salvage nuclear negotiations, saying it’s entirely up to the United States to choose what “Christmas gift” it gets from the North.
Dec. 7, 2019: North Korea says it performed “a very important test” at its long-range rocket launch site. Six days later, North Korea says it conducted “another crucial test” at the same site, prompting speculation that it’s developing a new ICBM or preparing a satellite launch.
Jan. 1, 2020: North Korea says Kim during a key political conference accused the Trump administration of dragging its feet in nuclear negotiations and warned that his country will soon show a new strategic weapon that would bolster its nuclear deterrent in the face of “gangster-like” U.S. pressure. Kim also says the North would no longer be bound to its moratorium on nuclear and ICBM tests.