The Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency says Pyongyang's latest action means the communist government has removed all monitoring equipment at Yongbyon -- its atomic reactor complex. On its website, the agency posted a notice Tuesday saying it can no longer ensure that North Korea is not diverting nuclear material for the manufacture of weapons.
Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei urged North Korea to allow the re-installation of nuclear safeguard measures at Yongbyon. But Pyongyang has ignored international appeals to reverse course.
Again Tuesday, it accused the United States of driving the Korean peninsula to the brink of war, and it vowed to strike back. Pyongyang has been urging Washington to sign a non-aggression treaty, in order to resolve the controversy over its nuclear program.
The United States says the facility at Yongbyon can re-process enough nuclear fuel to make at least three nuclear bombs.
South Korea's president-elect appealed Tuesday for a diplomatic solution to the crisis. Roh Moo-hyun spoke by telephone with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, and he met with ambassadors from Japan, China and Russia, seeking their help in pressuring North Korea to end its nuclear program.
Pyongyang says it was forced to re-activate the nuclear facilities to provide electricity after a U-S-led consortium suspended fuel oil shipments. That suspension came after Washington said Pyongyang admitted violating a 1994 agreement to freeze its nuclear program.