SEOUL: North Korea announced it would quit six-nation disarmament talks and restart its nuclear weapons programme in protest at the UN’s condemnation of its rocket launch this month.
The communist state said the Security Council’s discussion of a peaceful satellite launch was “an unbearable insult” to its people.
It said it “sternly rejects” the Council’s action and would strengthen its nuclear deterrent in response.
“There is no need for the six-party (nuclear disarmament) talks any more,” said a foreign ministry statement carried by the official 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.”
The North “will strengthen its nuclear deterrent for its defence 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.”
The statement, which analysts described as unusually strong, came just hours after the Security Council unanimously approved its statement.
Pyongyang had been disabling plants at Yongbyon that produced weapons-grade plutonium as part of a February 2007 six-nation deal.
It previously threatened to quit the talks, which began in 2003, should the Security Council criticise its April 5 rocket launch.
Pyongyang’s regime has been trumpeting its success in launching what it termed a peaceful communications satellite.
The United States and its allies say no satellite has been detected in orbit and the North’s purpose in any case was to test a long-range missile.
The 15-member Council condemned the launch, saying it contravenes Security Council Resolution 1718 passed after the North’s 2006 missile and nuclear tests.
It agreed to tighten sanctions, which were mandated under Resolution 1718 but never enforced amid hopes of progress on denuclearisation.
Backed by the United States and its European allies, Japan had pressed for a resolution, which carries more weight than a statement.
But China and Russia urged restraint to avoid harming prospects for resuming the six-party talks. These group the two Koreas, China, Russia, Japan and the United States.
“Even though the six-party talks were blown up by hostile forces and the denuclearisation process torn apart, we will take the responsibility of ensuring peace and security on the Korean peninsula with the strength of the Songun (military-first) policy,” the North’s statement said.
It said it would actively consider building its own light water nuclear reactors to supply electrical power and blasted what it called double standards by the world body.
“According to the US logic, Japan may launch a satellite because Japan is its ally but we must not do the same because we have a different system and we are not subservient to the US,” the ministry statement said.
“The UN Security Council simply yielded to the US robber-like logic.”
Kim Yong-Hyun, a professor at Seoul’s Dongguk University, said Pyongyang’s response raises the possibility of armed provocations.
“The strong North Korean statement means tension will rise further around the peninsula for a while,” he told AFP. “It raises the possibility of military provocations by North Korea.
“North Korea is ratcheting up the stakes. Its brinkmanship, of course, is designed to win maximum concessions from the US and international community.”
Professor Yang Moo-Jin of the University of North Korean Studies said the statement was one of the strongest he remembered from Pyongyang.
“The statement says the North is now moving to actions. It’s crucial for the US, its allies and China to react wisely in order to control the situation.”