One year ago, North Korea reneged on an agreement with Washington to halt weapons tests in exchange for food aid. Since then, the North has launched two long-range rockets, detonated a nuclear weapon, threatened in the state media to assassinate the South Korean president and vowed to abandon its nuclear program only if every other country also gave up its nuclear weapons. Media reports suggest that North Korea also continues to ship missile and nuclear parts to Syria and Iran.
Many analysts say North Korea has become more dangerous than it was under Kim Jong Il, who came to power in 1994 after Kim Il Sung’s death. The North’s latest nuclear test was its most powerful, according to South Korea’s Defense Ministry. The North’s December rocket launch was the first successful attempt, after three failures, to send a satellite into orbit. (There was an additional failed launch with no satellite.) The country has also drastically increased border security, slicing nearly in half the rate at which defectors have been able to reach South Korea.