South Korean officials say North Korea's announcement that it has nuclear weapons and will not take part in disarmament talks may be an attempt to raise Pyongyang's negotiating position.

South Korean Vice Foreign Minister Lee Tae-shik said today (Friday) the announcement has little new information on North Korea's nuclear capabilities, but he warned the problem could become very serious if Pyongyang takes additional actions.

Australian Prime Minister John Howard says the North's announcement has elements of bluff and exaggeration. And Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer says he spoke with North Korea's ambassador to Australia and was encouraged talks could resume if the climate changed.

Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said today there must be calm while an effort is made to get Pyongyang to return to the talks, which include the two Koreas, the United States, Japan, China and Russia.

U.S. officials say Washington remains committed to a diplomatic resolution to the nuclear issue.