The UN nuclear agency says North Korea has ordered international monitors at its main nuclear facility to remove seals from its equipment and leave the country. Pyongyang has also said it will drop out of six-party nuclear disarmament talks in reaction to a United Nations rebuke over its rocket launch earlier this month. The White House has urged North Korea to cease its threats and honor international commitments.
North Korea's launch of a long range rocket on April 5, and the U.N. Security Council's condemnation of it, are behind Pyongyang's latest move.
The country's Foreign Ministry said Tuesday the Security Council's criticism is an unbearable insult. It said there is no need for six-party talks aimed at ending Pyongyang's nuclear program and that it will "never again" take part in the talks.
The U.N. nuclear monitoring agency says North Korea has asked its inspectors to leave the country.
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs called on North Korea to end what he called provocative threats. "North Korea will not find acceptance by the international community unless it verifiably abandons its pursuit of nuclear weapons," he said.
Observers say Pyongyang's harsh rhetoric poses a foreign policy test for the Obama administration. Nicholas Szechenyi of the Center for Strategic and International Studies says North Korea is following a pattern of making harsh statements to provoke the United States and its allies.
"So I would expect not a whole lot of detailed statements in the next few days, but quiet consultation with allies and partners, particularly in the U.N., to coordinate a unified response," he said.
Szechenyi says Washington is trying to bring North Korea back to the negotiating table over its nuclear program, while at the same time pushing for more U.N. sanctions against Pyongyang. "It's a tricky game with North Korea, there's always a delicate balance between dialogue, which gets you to the ultimate goal of denuclearization, but also pressure and consequences for bad behavior," he said.
On Monday, all 15 member nations of the U.N. Security Council agreed to a statement rebuking North Korea for violating a ban on ballistic missile launches. The statement threatens additional sanctions if Pyongyang does not comply with the ban.