WASHINGTON - The White House said on Tuesday that North Korea's threat to withdraw from six-party talks was a serious step in the wrong direction and urged Pyongyang to end its provocative threats and live up to its international obligations.

North Korea said earlier it would quit international nuclear disarmament talks and restart a plant that makes bomb-grade plutonium after the United Nations chastised it for launching a long-range rocket.

North Korea's announced threat to withdraw from the six-party talks and restart its nuclear program is a serious step in the wrong direction, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said. North Korea will not find acceptance by the international community unless it verifiably abandons its pursuit of nuclear weapons.