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North Korea on Tuesday announced that it was walking out on six-party talks to end its nuclear program, and vowed to resume operating its nuclear facilities. The decision comes a day after the 15-member United Nations Security Council condemned North Korea's April 5 rocket launch, which critics argue was a long-range missile test.
According to North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency, the decision to abandon international talks is a response to the UN Security Council statement, released on Monday, which was deemed insulting to the North Korean people.
Now that the six-party talks have turned into a platform for infringing upon the sovereignty of the DPRK and seeking to force the DPRK to disarm itself and bring down the system in it the DPRK will never participate in the talks any longer nor it will be bound to any agreement of the six-party talks.
North Korea also said it will restore nuclear facilities it has been disabling and resume operating them, apparently referring to its five-megawatt plutonium-producing reactor and other facilities at the Yongbyon complex north of Pyongyang.
North Korea also said it will reprocess spent fuel rods, also apparently referring to an activity at Yongbyon, and "actively consider" building a light-water nuclear reactor.
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."
In response to North Korea's decision, China called for "calm and restraint" from all sides, reports Reuters. Meanwhile, according to the official Chinese news agency Xinhua, Russia's foreign ministry expressed regret over Pyongyang's actions.
According to the Seoul-based English-language daily The Korea Herald, South Korean analysts did not expect North Korea to withdraw from the international negotiations. The paper adds that North Korea has limited its communication with the outside world to bilateral talks with the United States and China.
Contrary to what some analysts here had believed, Pyongyang wasn't bluffing when it threatened to pull out from the six-nation talks should the U.N. Security Council take any action against its "satellite launch."
Experts such as Yoon Deok-min, professor at the Institute of Foreign Affairs and National Security, and Yoo Ho-yeol, professor of North Korean studies at Korea University, hadn't expected the North would actually withdraw from the six-party talks and plunge into deeper isolation.
In fact, the UN Security Council's statement was carefully crafted to keep North Korea from leaving the negotiating table, reported The New York Times.
The major players on the United Nations Security Council reached a compromise Saturday to chastise North Korea for launching a rocket while avoiding tough new punishments that Russia and China had feared would drive the North away from negotiations over dismantling its nuclear program....
The North had threatened to walk out of the talks if the United Nations punished it for the launching. But it has been silent on the subject recently, and analysts said Saturday that the Council response was measured enough that the North would likely continue to negotiate.
The UN Security Council's statement, issued on Monday, condemned the April 5 launch without specifying whether it was a missile or a satellite, demanded an end to North Korea's rocket launches, and promised to expand sanctions against the communist country, reported London-based newspaper The Guardian.