Reigniting nuclear issueNorth Korea declared yesterday that the international community leaves it no choice but to restart its nuclear program. The declaration came as a swift response to the United Nations Security Council’s unanimously adopted statement condemning the North’s April 5 rocket launch. The council said the launch breached an earlier Council resolution banning the country from ballistic missile activity.
North Korea reiterated that it will walk away from the six-party talks aimed at denuclearization. Before carrying out its long-range rocket launch, in spite of international warnings, Pyongyang threatened to boycott the talks if the United Nations took action in response to what it called its satellite program.
North Korea’s response yesterday was to say it will reactivate its Yongbyon nuclear plant, which was shut down in 2007, and restart reprocessing used nuclear fuel rods.
In short, North Korea said it will return to nuclear weapons development.
Pyongyang also said it will consider building its own light-water nuclear reactor, which hints at the development of a uranium enrichment program. The belligerent nation also suggested it will consider giving up its United Nations membership.
North Korea appeared well prepared for possible international action following its rocket launch. It issued a strongly worded statement berating the Security Council for its statement shortly after it was announced.
Pyongyang may already have a second nuclear test card up its sleeves.
As the Security Council states, with the endorsement of China and Russia, North Korea’s rocket launch was a clear violation of its 2006 Resolution 1718 banning any missile tests by the country. The North’s nuclear and missile program endangers world peace and can be regarded as an international criminal act rather than defense of its sovereignty.
How can Pyongyang talk of sovereignty infringement when it is posing such danger to the international community? What does it think it can gain by threatening the world in such an irrational manner?
We do not believe North Korea will carry out its threats, and we hope the international community will try to resolve this matter diplomatically and peacefully through the existing six-party channel. We trust Pyongyang will listen.
Our government will have to deal with this matter discreetly and we may have to take up full membership in the Proliferation Security Initiative. North Korea may be further provoked if we join the U.S.-led PSI, but we need some kind of defense mechanism to deter the North from constant provocation. We also need to protect our people.