North Korea vows to boycott nuclear talks (Roundup)

April 14th, 2009 - 6:07 pm ICT by IANS  

Seoul, April 14 (DPA) North Korea Tuesday said that it would boycott international negotiations on ending its nuclear weapons programme and restore nuclear facilities that it had disabled in reaction to the UN Security Council’s (UNSC) condemnation of a North Korean rocket launch.
The six-nation nuclear talks “in which we are participating have become no longer necessary,” the foreign ministry said in a statement distributed by the state-run Korean Central News Agency.

“We will never again participate in these talks and never be bound to any agreement of the six-party talks,” the statement said.

“The DPRK resolutely rejects the unjust action taken by the UNSC wantonly infringing upon the sovereignty of the DPRK and seriously hurting the dignity of the Korean people,” the statement said, using the acronym of North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

North Korea’s foreign ministry also said it intended to restart a reactor at its Yongbyon nuclear facility, 100 km north of Pyongyang, as well as reprocess nuclear fuel rods for plutonium, build its own light-water nuclear reactor and “bolster its nuclear deterrent for self-defence in every way”. Plutonium can be used for nuclear weapons.

Pyongyang’s comments came in response to what it called a “brigandish” UN Security Council statement from Monday condemning an April 5 North Korean rocket launch.

The statement also called the launch a violation of UN resolutions, demanded North Korea conduct no further launches and announced its intention to “adjust” by month’s end the sanctions already put in place in 2006 against North Korea after it had conducted a series of missile tests and a nuclear test.

Pyongyang threatened before the launch that it would quit the nuclear talks if the council criticised what the communist state said was the “peaceful” launch of a communications satellite.

Japan, South Korea and the US said no satellite has been detected in orbit and they believe the launch served as cover for testing a Taepodong-2 long-range missile.

Nations involved in the nuclear talks with North Korea reacted with caution. China called for “calmness and restraint” from all parties while Japan sought a continuation of the six-nation talks and urged North Korea to comply with a UN resolution that bans missile tests.

Russia issued a warning to North Korea about the ramifications of withdrawing from the talks.

“We hope that North Korea will think again about the consequences of such a step from the perspective of solving the problems of the Korean Peninsula,” the Russian foreign affairs ministry was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying in a statement.

China’s and Russia’s opposition saw that a statement rather than a harsher resolution was passed in the Security Council. They were concerned that a stronger measure would undermine the six-party talks.

China’s foreign affairs ministry Tuesday said that it was opposed to any new sanctions on North Korea as spokeswoman Jiang Yu promoted the six-party talks as having played an “important role in promoting the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula, in building mutual trust among various nations and in establishing a security mechanism in North-East Asia”.

South Korean officials said their government would react with calm while Seoul’s top nuclear negotiator, Wi Sung Lac, told the domestic news agency Yonhap that the latest threats were part of a North Korean “game”.

“Now, there is a phase of confrontation that one day will revert to dialogue,” he said.

Observers said that because North Korea’s announcement did not directly criticise its archrival, the US, Pyongyang might be seeking to coax Washington into bilateral talks. They also estimated that North Korea could restart work at its re-processing facility in Yongbyon in a few months.

The US, Russia, China, Japan and South Korea have been trying to persuade North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons drive in the framework of the six-nation talks since Pyongang announced it was withdrawing from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 2003.

After little initial success and a North Korean nuclear test in October 2006, the Stalinist state agreed in February 2007 to dismantle its weapons programme in exchange for substantial aid.

The talks have been stalled since December over questions about how to verify that North Korea has fulfilled its denuclearisation pledges.

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