Governments around the world are expressing alarm at North Korea's decision to pull out of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
The North Korean decision has prompted calls around the world for diplomacy and negotiations to deal with the nuclear standoff. North Korea says that, on Saturday, it will pull out of the global treaty to control the spread of nuclear weapons.
At the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency, officials called on North Korea to reverse its decision and seek a diplomatic solution.
The IAEA chief, Mohamed ElBaradei, said the next move is up to North Korea.
"There's a lot of light at the end of the tunnel," he said. "There's readiness to discuss their security concerns. There's readiness to provide them economic assistance. But they have first to show that they are willing to sit, negotiate, without that threat of nuclear brinkmanship."
But North Korea remains defiant. Its U.N. ambassador, Pak Gil Yon, blasted the IAEA and the United States at a news conference in New York.
"The IAEA still remains a servant and a spokesman for the United States," he claimed. "And the NPT (Non-Proliferation Treaty) is being used as tool for implementing the United States' hostile policy towards the DPRK (Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea), aimed to disarm it, and destroy its system by force."
At a Moscow summit, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi voiced alarm at North Korea's move, but said the door remains open for negotiations.
In China, government spokesmen said Beijing is concerned, and remains committed to a non-nuclear Korean peninsula.
Sweden called on North Korea to reconsider its decision, and offered its help to find a diplomatic solution.
France and Britain also condemned the North Korean move, and London said the U.N. Security Council should discuss the matter.
Nuclear jitters also hit the financial markets. The Japanese yen slumped to a 3.5-year low, while the price of gold shot up to a six-year high.