White House press secretary Jay Carney warned Tuesday that North Korean threats to restart a nuclear reactor it mothballed five years ago would only further isolate the country from the international community.
The North Korean state news agency on Tuesday reported plans to "readjust and restart all the nuclear facilities" at its complex in Yongbyon. The facilities include a uranium enrichment facility and reactor shuttered after a 2007 agreement with the United States and other nations.
Carney said the latest posturing from North Korean leaders was "not the path" to resolving conflicts in the region.
"We have seen consistent behavior that is counterproductive, to say the least, to a goal that one assumes North Korea's leaders aspire to, which is an improvement for lots of North Korean people," Carney said, adding the country "must abandon its pursuit of nuclear weapons."
The decision to restart the Yongbyon reactor was the latest in a string of symbolic and substantive moves by North Korea in the wake of new sanctions levied in response to the country's nuclear test in February. North Korea has disabled an emergency contact line with South Korea, and officials stated they consider the county in a "state of war" with their southern neighbor.
The threats have prompted maneuvering by the Pentagon, which has dispatched stealth B-2 bombers, F-22 Raptor fighter jets and B-52 bombers to the regions. American and South Korean troops have also conducted joint military exercises, and the Navy shifted a guided missile destroyer to waters off the Korean peninsula.
"We are taking appropriate measures in response to the bellicose rhetoric and provocative actions" from North Korea, Carney said.
The White House also said administration officials had been in regular contact with leaders in Seoul, Tokyo, Moscow and Beijing to coordinate a response. Carney said President Obama was being regularly briefed on the situation.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told CNBC on Monday that the U.S. should be "very concerned" by North Korea's posturing.
"The kind of provocation and bellicosity they're showing now with their rhetoric raises a lot of concern," Panetta said.