- The Washington Times - Monday, April 13, 2009

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA (AP) - North Korea vowed Tuesday to bolster its nuclear deterrent and boycott six-party talks aimed at its denuclearization in protest of a U.N. Security Council statement condemning the country’s recent rocket launch.

North Korea’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it “resolutely condemns” the action by the United Nations, which it said “rampantly” infringes upon the country’s sovereignty and “severely debases” the people’s dignity.

“We have no choice but to further strengthen our nuclear deterrent to cope with additional military threats by hostile forces,” the statement said.

The statement also said that “six-party talks that we are taking part in are not necessary any more.”

Those negotiations, which also involve China, Japan, Russia, South Korea and the United States, began in 2003 and have been aimed at achieving North Korea’s denuclearization.

The North also said it will restore nuclear facilities it has been disabling in line with an international disarmament-for-aid deal negotiated under the six-party process and resume operating them.

The statement was the country’s first reaction to the Security Council’s unanimous condemnation Monday over the April 5 rocket launch, which Pyongyang says sent a satellite into space but critics say tested long-range missile technology.

The Security Council demanded an end to 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.

North Korea had threatened last month that any criticism by the U.N. Security Council over the launch would result in the end of the six-party talks.

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