North Korea denounced the council’s “hostile” move hours after all 15 members, including Beijing and Moscow, unanimously agreed to condemn the April 5 launch as a violation of U.N. resolutions and to tighten sanctions against the isolated country, the Associated Press reported.
North Korea claims it sent a communications satellite into space during the early April launch as part of a peaceful effort to develop its space program, but U.S. defense officials said the payload landed in the Pacific Ocean. The launch was widely seen as a disguised test of a long-range missile.
The Security Council on Monday demanded an end to the rocket launches and said it would expand sanctions against the communist nation. The council also called for quick resumption of nuclear disarmament talks.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the resolution “sends a unified message of the international community” on the North’s disputed launch.
Since 2003, envoys from six nations, including the two Koreas, the U.S., China, Russia and Japan, have met periodically in Beijing for talks on persuading Pyongyang into giving up its nuclear program in exchange for aid and other incentives.
“The six-party talks have lost the meaning of their existence, never to recover,” the North’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement, declaring it would never participate in the talks again and is no longer bound to previous agreements, according to the AP.
The North also said it would restart nuclear facilities, an apparent reference to its high-profile plutonium-producing reactor at Yongbyon. In June 2008, North Korea blew up the cooling tower at Yongbyon in a dramatic show of its commitment at the time to denuclearization. Four months later, the Bush administration removed North Korea from a list of states that sponsor terrorism.
China, which wields significant political clout with the North, appealed for calm while signing on to the Security Council’s rebuke.
“We hope the relevant parties will proceed from the overall interest, exercise calmness and restraint,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu told a press conference in Beijing on Tuesday.
By joining the U.N. condemnation, Beijing may be looking to reposition how it handles its ties with Pyongyang, some regional watchers observed.
“It means China is paying much more attention to the United States and Japan, and less to North Korea and its relations with North Korea,” Shi Yinhong, a regional security expert at Renmin University in Beijing, told Reuters.
Russia’ Foreign Ministry said it regrets Pyongyang’s response and called on the regime to return to the talks, the ITAR-Tass news agency said.
In its statement the North said it would prepare to thwart what it called “hostile acts” by the U.S. and its allies.
“We have no choice but to further strengthen our nuclear deterrent to cope with additional military threats by hostile forces,” the Foreign Ministry said in the statement carried by state media.
As with past threats, the ultimate outcome of Pyongyang’s tough talk remains to be seen, analysts said.
“North Korea’s statements are always a mixture of bluff and real threats, but I think the threats are more real this time, and I think they’ll continue for the next few months at least,” Shi told Reuters.