Tuesday, April 14, 2009

White House Asks the North Koreans to Be Nice

North Korea vowed Tuesday to restart its nuclear reactor and to boycott international disarmament talks for good in retaliation for the U.N. Security Council's condemnation of its rocket launch.

The International Atomic Energy Agency said Tuesday that North Korea ordered the immediate expulsion of its inspectors and told the U.N. nuclear watchdog it was reactivating all of its nuclear facilities.

North Korea told inspectors to remove seals and cameras from its Yongbyon nuclear site and leave the country as quickly as possible, an IAEA statement said.

Pyongyang informed the IAEA it was "immediately ceasing all cooperation," the statement said.

"The (North) also informed the IAEA that it has decided to reactivate all facilities and go ahead with the reprocessing of spent fuel," it said.

The vow to restart its nuclear reactor and boycott international disarmament talks was a serious step in the wrong direction, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said.

North Korea must "cease its provocative threats" and respect the will of the international community, which won't accept the communist country unless it abandons what the White House calls its pursuit of nuclear weapons, Gibbs said.

Russia, voicing regret over the move, urged Pyongyang to return to the negotiating table. Its Foreign Ministry called the U.N. statement "legitimate and well-balanced," and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said all sides must stick to the disarmament process. China, North Korea's main ally, appealed for calm.

All 15 members of the Security Council, including Beijing and Moscow, agreed to condemn the April 5 missile launch as a violation of U.N. resolutions and to tighten sanctions against the regime. The U.N. statement, however, was weaker than the resolution Japan and the United States had pursued. Nevertheless, expect the Obama administration to consider a weak U.N. statement to be a "victory" against North Korea. Obama called the U.N. statement, which also called for quick resumption of disarmament talks, a "clear and united message" that North Korea's action was unlawful and would result in real consequences.

That'll show them.


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