Quiz: Can you spot a pattern in U.S. policy on North Korea?

Quiz: Can you spot a pattern in U.S. policy on North Korea?

Can you connect the dots? Can you put your finger on an elusive pattern? And when I say elusive, I mean, really hard to detect? Up for the challenge? Have a look at the following developments in U.S. policy toward the nuclear-armed North Korea, described with the help of New York Times headlines. Let me know if you can spot a pattern.

Act I.
1993: North Korea, Fighting Inspection, Renounces Nuclear Arms Treaty 
1994:U.S. and North Korea Sign Pact to End Nuclear Dispute: “[As part of the deal] an international consortium will replace North Korea’s current graphite nuclear reactors with new light-water reactors…. The United States also agreed to low-level diplomatic ties with North Korea.”

Act II.
1998: North Korea Fires Missile Over Japanese territory 
2002: North Korea Says It Has a Program on Nuclear Arms 
2005: North Korea Says It Will Abandon Nuclear Effort: “[As part of the deal, foreign powers] said they would provide aid, diplomatic assurances and security guarantees and consider North Korea’s demands for a light-water nuclear reactor.”

Act III.
2006: North Koreans Say They Tested Nuclear Device
2006: North Korea Will Resume Nuclear Talks [with West]
2007: In Shift, Accord on North Korea Seems to Be Set: “[As part of the deal] the oil and aid for North Korea would be provided by South Korea, China and the United States.”

Act IV.
2009: North Korea Claims to Conduct 2nd Nuclear Test
2010: North Koreans Unveil Vast New Plant for Nuclear Use
2012: North Korea Agrees to Curb Nuclear Work; U.S. Offers Aid: “[As part of the deal, the U.S.] pledged in exchange to ship tons of food aid to the isolated, impoverished nation.”

Act V.
Can you project what might happen next? Here are my thoughts, from a few years back. In a nutshell: Appease, Embolden. Repeat.