North Korea Angry Over U.S. Response to Rocket Launch

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - U.S. monitors of North Korea's nuclear
program left the communist nation after the regime ordered them out
and vowed to restart its reactor in anger over U.N. criticism of
its recent rocket launch.

The four Americans arrived Friday in Beijing on a flight from
Pyongyang but declined to speak to reporters. Their departure came
a day after U.N. nuclear inspectors left the North. One U.S.
official remains in Pyongyang and will leave Saturday, the State
Department said.

The pullout of all international inspectors will leave the
global community with no onsite means to monitor North Korea's
nuclear facilities, which can yield weapons-grade plutonium if
restarted.

North Korea vowed earlier this week to restart its nuclear
program and quit six-nation disarmament talks because the U.N.
Security Council criticized its April 5 rocket launch as a
violation of resolutions barring it from ballistic missile-related
activity.

Pyongyang says the liftoff was a peaceful satellite launch, but
other nations believe it was a test of its long-range missile
technology.

The North's angry reaction threw prospects for the
already-stalled disarmament talks into further doubt. The U.S.,
China, Japan and South Korea and Russia have urged the North to
return to the negotiating table, but it has not responded.

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov plans to visit North
Korea next week, a duty officer at the Foreign Ministry in Moscow
confirmed, saying more information about the trip will be released
Monday. The officer spoke on condition of anonymity in line with
policy.

South Korea's Chosun Ilbo newspaper reported Friday that Lavrov
plans to visit Pyongyang around April 24 and is likely to meet with
North Korean leader Kim Jong Il and deliver a letter from Russian
President Dmitri Medvedev. The newspaper cited unidentified Russian
officials.

Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said Beijing will work to
continue the six-nation disarmament talks and "hopes for the
development of and improvement in relations between the United
States and North Korea," according to an interview in Japan's
Nihon Keizai newspaper.

China is North Korea's only major ally but backed the U.N.
rebuke.

Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency left
North Korea on Thursday after removing all seals and switching off
surveillance cameras, the IAEA said.

The European Union expressed "serious concern" Friday and
called on the North to reverse its decisions to expel IAEA
inspectors and restore its nuclear facilities, the EU's Czech
presidency said in a statement. The EU also urged Pyongyang to
allow an early resumption of the six-party talks.

North Korea conducted a nuclear test in 2006 but later agreed to
dismantle its nuclear program in return for shipments of fuel oil
under a 2007 six-nation deal. The process has been stalled since
last year by a dispute over how to verify North Korea's past
nuclear activities.


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