Foreign policy will test any president, and no nation is more of a thorn in the world’s geopolitical side than North Korea. The source of this animosity dates back to the very founding of North Korea, and the country has been a geopolitical problem ever since. However, after years of relative containment, diplomatic relations with the country have gotten out of hand, fast. What happened, why, and where do we go from here? Here’s a timeline of very recent events to help us better understand the accelerating situation.
- August 8th: The Washington Post reports that North Korea, which has been testing long-range missiles, has managed to build nuclear warheads that fit inside them. After the news breaks, Donald Trump verbally threatens North Korea:
“North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen … [Kim Jong-un] has been very threatening beyond a normal state. They will be met with fire, fury and frankly power the likes of which this world has never seen before.”
North Korea, in response, states it is “carefully examining” attacking Guam, a Pacific island part of the U.S.
- August 10th: Trump, as more word leaks of North Korea’s missile capability, publicly wonders if his threat wasn’t aggressive enough, and he doubles down with a threat that the military is “locked and loaded,” despite efforts by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense James Mattis to defuse the situation.
- August 11th: Word leaks that U.S. and North Korean diplomats are engaged in secret talks to ease accelerating tensions.
- August 14th: In compliance with U.S. sanctions, China cuts off major North Korean imports, a major blow to the country’s economy. The next day, North Korea backs off its threat against Guam while still warning the U.S. against “dangerous reckless actions.”
- August 20th: North Korea renews threats against the U.S. over a joint military exercise between South Korea and the U.S.
- August 22nd: The Treasury Department sanctions several Chinese and Russian entities and individuals who allegedly assist with North Korea’s nuclear program.