North Korea said on Saturday it has again started to reprocess spent nuclear fuel rods to produce weapons-grade plutonium.
"The reprocessing of spent fuel rods from the pilot atomic power plant began as declared in the Foreign Ministry statement dated April 14," the state-run Korean Central News Agency cited a foreign ministry spokesman, who referred to work at North Korea's Yongbyon nuclear facility.
The measure was to contribute to "bolstering the nuclear deterrence for self-defence in every way to cope with the increasing military threats from the hostile forces", the spokesman said.
North Korea last week quit international negotiations to end its nuclear weapons programme, following criticism by the UN Security Council of its April 5 rocket launch, which the council regarded a breach of a resolution banning the Stalinist state from testing long-range ballistic missiles.
Following the Security Council statement, Pyongyang announced its withdrawal from the six-party talks, and said it would restore nuclear facilities it has been disabling after a 2007 disarmament deal.