HONG KONG -- North Korea's surprise announcement last week that it possesses nuclear weapons and would indefinitely boycott the six-party talks immensely complicates the Korean nuclear problem and puts additional pressure on China as host of the multilateral talks to get them started again.

In a statement issued Feb. 10, Pyongyang accused the United States of having a policy of "regime change" in North Korea, asserting that Washington had rejected North Korea's proposal for peaceful coexistence.

It is vital at this point for the five other parties to the six-party talks -- the U.S., China, Japan, Russia and South Korea -- to remain united. It is important not to overreact. For one thing, North Korea has not said it will no longer take part in the talks. What it said was that it would "indefinitely" suspend its participation until such time as Pyongyang feels it has reason "to expect positive results from the talks."