North Korea announced yesterday it would quit six-nation nuclear disarmament talks and restart its atomic weapons program to protest the UN’s condemnation of its rocket launch.
The communist nation said UN Security Council discussion of the launch, which it insists sent a satellite into orbit, was “an unbearable insult” to its people.
Analysts described the Pyongyang statement as unusually strong. China, North Korea’s sole major ally, urged it to reconsider.
“There is no need for the six-party talks any more,” said a statement from Pyongyang’s foreign ministry carried by the Korean Central News Agency.
“We will never again take part in such talks and will not be bound by any agreement reached at the talks,” it said.
North Korea “will strengthen its nuclear deterrent for its defense by all means,” it said.
“We will take steps to restore disabled nuclear facilities … and reprocess used fuel rods that came from experimental nuclear reactors,” it said.
Pyongyang had been disabling plants at Yongbyon that produced weapons-grade plutonium as part of a February 2007 six-nation deal.
The vow to quit the talks came hours after the UN unanimously approved a statement condemning the April 5 launch, which it said contravened a resolution passed after North Korea’s 2006 missile and nuclear tests.
The council agreed to tighten sanctions that were mandated under Resolution 1718, but never enforced amid hopes of progress on denuclearization.
China and Russia resisted calls for a new resolution, saying they did not want to harm prospects for resuming the disarmament talks, which group them with the two Koreas, Japan and the US.
China urged Pyongyang to stay in the talks.
“The Chinese side hopes all sides will … continue to advance and push forward the six-party talks and the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu (姜瑜) said.
Jiang said China opposed any further UN sanctions.
The Russian foreign ministry expressed regret, while Japan said it “strongly urges” Pyongyang to return to the negotiations.
The South Korean Foreign Ministry expressed “deep regret.”
“As the UN Security Council’s presidential statement reflects a unified demand by the international community, the government urges North Korea to abide by it and come to the six-way talks,” a statement said.