North Korea vowed on Tuesday to restore nuclear facilities it has been disabling and boycott international talks on its atomic weapons program to protest the U.N. Security Council’s condemnation of the country’s rocket launch.
North Korea’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it “resolutely condemns” the action by the United Nations, which it said infringes upon the country’s sovereignty and devalues the dignity of its people. “We have no choice but to further strengthen our nuclear deterrent to cope with additional military threats by hostile forces,” the statement said. It also hinted that the North would conduct more satellite tests, saying it will “continue to exercise its sovereign rights to use space.”
The statement was the country’s first reaction to the Security Council’s unanimous condemnation Monday of the April 5 launch, which Pyongyang says sent a satellite into space but the United States and others say tested long-range missile technology.
The statement also said that the North “will never participate in the six-party talks” because other members “publicly denied” the spirit of the negotiations which it said were respect of mutual equality and sovereignty in the name of the U.N. Security Council. The six-party talks, which also involve China, Japan, Russia, South Korea and the U.S., began in 2003 and have been aimed at achieving North Korea’s denuclearization. The process, however, has been stalled for months over how to verify North Korea’s accounting of its past nuclear activities. North Korea had threatened last month that any criticism by the U.N. Security Council over the launch would result in the end to the talks.
The North said it will not be bound by any agreement signed under the talks and will restore nuclear facilities it has been disabling and will resume operating them. Under a 2007 six-party deal, North Korea agreed to disable its main nuclear complex a step toward its ultimate dismantlement in return for 1 million tons of fuel oil and other concessions.
South Korea’s Foreign Ministry had no immediate comment. Foreign Ministry officials in China, the host of the talks, were not immediately available for comment.
North Korea also said it will “actively consider” building a nuclear light-water reactor and reprocess spent fuel rods at a pilot atomic power plant. In its statement on Monday, the Security Council demanded an end to North Korean missile tests and said it will expand sanctions against the reclusive communist nation.
The council’s statement, agreed on by all 15 members and read at a formal meeting of the United Nations’ most powerful body, said the launch violated a council resolution adopted after the North conducted a nuclear test explosion in 2006 that banned any missile tests by the country.
The statement was a weaker response than a U.N. resolution, which had been sought by Japan and the United States but was opposed by China and Russia. U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice insisted the statement is legally binding, just like a resolution a view backed by Russia but other diplomats and officials disagreed.