UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Tuesday that tensions had already soared too high on the Korean Peninsula and warned Pyongyang against making nuclear threats.
“I am deeply troubled.... The current crisis has already gone too far,” Ban said at a press conference in Andorra. “Nuclear threats are not a game... things must begin to calm down.
“There is no need for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to be on a collision course with the international community,” he said after Pyongyang announced it would restart a nuclear reactor to feed its atomic weapons programme.
The Korean Peninsula has been caught in a cycle of escalating tensions since the North’s February nuclear test, which followed a long-range rocket launch in December.
Ban said he feared an escalation in the crisis.
“I’m convinced that nobody intends to attack the DPRK because of a disagreement about its political system or foreign policy. However, I’m afraid that others will respond firmly to any direct military provocation,” Ban said.
“Dialogue and negotiations are the only way to resolve the current crisis.”
Ban said he was “deeply concerned” about the wider effects of tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
“Peace and stability in and around the Korean Peninsula has very important regional and even global implications,” he said.
“I urge again the authorities of the DPRK to fully abide by the relevant Security Council resolutions and refrain from making further provocative measures,” Ban said.
North Korea’s announcement on Tuesday that it would restart its main Yongbyon nuclear complex to feed its atomic weapons programme was “deeply regrettable”, the UN atomic agency said on Tuesday.
“This is another deeply regrettable development, which is in clear violation of UN Security Council resolutions,” International Atomic Energy Agency spokeswoman Gill Tudor told said via email.
“Once again, the (IAEA) Director General strongly urges the DPRK (North Korea) to implement fully all relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council and the IAEA Board of Governors,” she added.
Bringing Yongbyon, which was shut in 2007, back online would allow Pyongyang to restock its dwindling supply of plutonium, which can be used in the core of a nuclear weapon.
A government spokesman said the move would involve “readjusting and restarting” all facilities at Yongbyon, including a plant to enrich uranium – which when highly enriched can also be used in an explosive device – and a five-megawatt reactor.
The aim was to “bolster the nuclear armed force both in quality and quantity”, the spokesman was quoted as saying by the official KCNA news agency.
North Korea, which in February conducted a third nuclear test, kicked out IAEA inspectors in 2009.