North Korea to suspend nuclear disablement

North Korea said on Tuesday it will stop disabling its nuclear facilities and consider restoring the Yongbyon reactor that can make material for atomic bombs, accusing the United States of violating a disarmament deal.





"We have decided to immediately suspend disabling our nuclear facilities," the North's KCNA news agency quoted a foreign ministry official as saying.



"This measure has been effective on Aug. 14 and related parties have been notified of it," the official said.



Analysts said that given North Korea's deep reluctance to give up its nuclear weapons programme - the one powerful negotiating card it has with the outside world - its latest move was no big surprise.



"North Korea is trying to muddle through and delay as much as possible," said Lee Dong-bok, a senior associate at the CSIS think tank in Seoul. "At the same time, this is a last-ditch effort trying to somehow influence U.S. presidential politics."



The KCNA announcement coincided with the start of the U.S. Democratic Party's convention to formally choose its presidential candidate.



It also came just after Chinese President Hu Jintao, whose government is the nearest the reclusive North has to an ally, flew out of Seoul after two days of talks with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak. Lee came to office earlier this year with a promise to get tough on the North if it did not move towards giving up its nuclear weapons ambitions.



"I think the timing of the Hu Jintao visit to South Korea was very depressing to the North Koreans," CSIS's Lee said.



Regional powers have been pressing North Korea to accept stringent measures to verify the declaration of its nuclear programme.



The United States has made clear it will not take the North off its list of state sponsors of terrorism until that happens.



"I see it as another card at the negotiation table to urge the U.S. to remove it from the terrorism blacklist as soon as possible," said Koh Yu-hwan, professor of North Korean studies at Seoul's Dongguk University.



Shen Dingli, a nuclear security expert at Fudan University in Shanghai, said he did not believe that North Korea ever intended to abandon its nuclear weapons capability.



"The United States and China can think that they are drawing North Korea into true nuclear disarmament, but North Korea has continued to nuclearise throughout the six-party process," Shen said. "Their strategic goal remains developing and keeping nuclear weapons."



The six-party talks on disarmament comprise the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the United States.



Markets worried



The news gave an extra nudge down to an already falling South Korean won and some analysts said it could hit the country's share market.



"Such action by North Korea will surely hurt foreign investor sentiment towards South Korean shares even further ... I expect foreign exchange markets in particular to be vulnerable to the news," said Cho Ik-jae, chief market strategist at CJ Investment & Securities.



China did not say whether it knew in advance of Pyongyang's move but called the talks over nuclear disarmament very complex.



"We know it won't always be smooth sailing. The more difficult the circumstances, the more we must remember ... the important commitments made by each party, and abide by a spirit of mutual respect in encouraging mutual confidence," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said.



South Korea's foreign ministry called the move "regrettable", urging Pyongyang to resume disablement. Japan expressed concern and pledged to work with others to get the process back on track.



On Monday, China's Hu and South Korea's Lee issued a joint statement in Seoul urging cooperation in implementing the deal to end North Korea's nuclear weapons programme.



Disablement work that started in late 2007 at Yongbyon has mostly been completed and it was aimed at making it impossible for the North to resume operations there for at least a year.



In late June, North Korea toppled the cooling tower at its plutonium-producing reactor in a symbolic move to show its commitment to the nuclear deal.



The last remaining stage of the planned disabling of Yongbyon, a plant to make nuclear fuel and another to turn spent fuel into arms-grade plutonium, was the unloading of irradiated rods from its ageing reactor.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
News
people
News
20. Larry Page: Net worth: $23 billion; Country: U.S; Source of wealth: Google
business
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
A collection of 30 Banksy prints at Bonhams auction house in London
art
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Recruitment Genius: Doctors - Dubai - High "Tax Free" Earnings

£96000 - £200000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Looking for a better earning p...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer

£32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly expanding company in ...

Recruitment Genius: PA

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A PA is required to join a leading provider of...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness