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North Korea pulls out of disarmament talks after UN condemnation

North Korea announced Tuesday it would quit six-nation disarmament talks and restart its nuclear weapons program in protest at the UN's condemnation of its rocket launch this month.

North Korea's leader Kim Jong Il makes a TV speech

Kim Jong Il risks further isolation - and possibly worse - after his latest move

The communist state said the UN 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 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."

The statement, which analysts described as unusually strong, came just hours after the Security Council unanimously approved its statement.

Russia first to offer regret at decision

Russia's foreign ministry responded to North Korea's decision to restart its nuclear weapons program with regret, according to a report by state news agency RIA Novosti on Tuesday.

Missiles are carried during a massive military parade in Pyongyang, North Korea, in this file image made from television April 25, 2007

Russia regrets North Korea's pledge to re-arm

"We can only regret North Korea's decision and call on her not to leave six-party talks on the nuclear problem of the Korean peninsula," RIA Novosti quoted an unnamed ministry official as saying.

China had no immediate comment but in an earlier statement called for the diplomatic effort to continue.

Responding to the Security Council's condemnation of North Korea for its April 5 rocket launch, China's foreign ministry said it wanted all UN moves to be "conducive to the six-party talks."

"China hopes relevant parties will... jointly maintain peace and stability of the Korean peninsula and northeast Asia, and make all efforts to keep promoting the development of the six-party talks," foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said.

Jiang reiterated China's opposition to any fresh UN Security Council resolution or new sanctions against North Korea for its rocket launch.

Yongbyon reactor likely to go online again

A satellite image provided by Space Imaging Asia of the Yongbyon Nuclear Center, located north of Pyongyang, North Korea.

The Yongbyon site will be restarted as part of the response

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 criticize 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 denuclearization.

Japan calls for strong new resolution

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, which include the two Koreas, China, Russia, Japan and the United States.

A South Korean soldier watches a TV news program on the North Korean rocket launch

The rocket launch set the whole region on edge

"Even though the six-party talks were blown up by hostile forces and the denuclearization 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."

Security Council unanimously condemns missile test

Late on Monday, the UN Security Council in New York unanimously condemned North Korea for its long-range rocket launch and agreed to enforce existing sanctions against Pyongyang.

The United Nations Security Council

The Security Council was united in its condemnation

The 15 council members adopted a compromise statement agreed on by six major powers on Saturday. The statement ordered a UN sanctions committee to begin activating financial sanctions and an arms and limited trade embargo laid down in a resolution passed two and a half years ago.

US State Department spokesman Robert Wood said the council measure sends a "very strong and coordinated message" to the North Koreans that "this type of activity cannot happen again, mustn't happen again."

Despite Tokyo's failure to get a resolution over North Korea's rocket launch, Japanese Ambassador Yukio Takasu said "Japan is very pleased that the Security Council has adopted unanimously a very strong presidential statement."

Japan had called for emergency council action after Pyongyang launched a ballistic Taepo-dong 2 missile on April 5, arguing that the rocket had flown across its territory and was a clear violation of the 2006 resolution that forbade North Korea from testing ballistic missiles. The rocket fell into the Pacific Ocean after crossing over Japanese territory, according to US and Japanese officials. North Korea insists it put a satellite into orbit, but no evidence of the orbiter has been found.

In a week of wrestling over the council's response, the United States and Japan had demanded a full-fledged resolution with additional sanctions. But China and Russia, two of the council's five veto-wielding powers, refused to support tougher measures out of concern it would undermine the long-ongoing six-party talks aimed at getting Pyongyang to dismantle its nuclear program.

The talks, hosted by China and including the United States, South Korea, Japan and Russia, have been stalled since December last year after Pyongyang refused to agree on ways of verifying its claims on nuclear disarmament moves.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon expressed hope in a statement "that the council's unified response will pave the way for renewed efforts towards the peaceful resolution of all outstanding issues in the region, including through the early resumption of the six-party talks and the inter-Korean dialogue."

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