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Angry North Korea threatens nuclear U-turn

  • Story Highlights
  • Pyongyang says it has stopped disabling nuclear reactor
  • Suspension is in response to U.S. failure to drop it from terrorism sponsors list
  • North Korea also may consider restoring plutonium-producing facility
  • Washington, N. Korea have been negotiating how to verify disablement
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(CNN) -- North Korea said Tuesday it has stopped disabling its nuclear plants and will consider restoring them because the United States has not removed it from a list of states that sponsor terrorism.

The communist nation said it halted the dismantling of the plutonium-producing plants on August 14, the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported.

The North "will consider soon a step to restore the nuclear facilities in (Yongbyon) to their original state," the North Korean Foreign Ministry said in a statement that KCNA carried.

North Korea agreed to a complete dismantling of its Yongbyon nuclear complex by October. In return, U.S. President George W. Bush said he would lift some U.S. sanctions against North Korea and remove it from a State Department list of state sponsors of terrorism.

The sticking point between the two countries involves verification.

Washington said last week it will not remove North Korea from the terrorism list until Pyongyang agrees to set up an internationally recognizable mechanism to verify its declaration.

The U.S. has demanded that inspectors be given the right to visit all suspected nuclear facilities without notice, the South Korean news agency, Yonhap, said.

North Korea rejects that provision.

"The U.S. is gravely mistaken if it thinks it can make a house search in (North Korea) as it pleases just as it did in Iraq," the Foreign Ministry statement said.

In June, North Korean officials turned over to China a 60-page declaration, written in English, that details several rounds of plutonium production at the Yongbyon plant, dating to 1986.

In it, North Korea acknowledges producing roughly 40 kilograms of enriched plutonium -- enough for about seven nuclear bombs, according to the U.S. State Department.

Soon after, North Korea publicly destroyed a water cooling tower at the Yongbyon facility.

North Korea agreed to abandon its atomic weapons program on a promise that it would receive energy aid equivalent to one million tons of heavy fuel oil from the five nations involved in the disarmament talks: the United States, South Korea, China, Japan and Russia.

The parties to the talks also agreed on a system for verifying North Korea's compliance, including "visits to facilities, review of documents, interviews with technical personnel and other measures unanimously agreed upon among the six parties," according to a joint statement they released.

The North Korean Foreign Ministry said Tuesday that the United States was in "outright violation" of the agreement.

"The U.S., however, raised all of a sudden an issue of applying an 'international standard' to the verification of the nuclear declaration, abusing this agreed point," the statement said. "It (pressured North Korea) to accept such inspection as scouring any place ... as it pleases to collect samples and measure them."

South Korea's Foreign Ministry said it was disappointed by its neighbor's decision.

"The measure is regrettable as it came at a time when the six parties have to make concerted efforts to complete phase two of the denuclearization process," the ministry's spokesman Moon Tae-young told reporters.

He said Seoul "will work closely with relevant countries to have North Korea resume the disablement work as early as possible."

All About North KoreaWorld PoliticsNuclear ProliferationUnited States

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