The dramatic turn of events in Northern Ireland politics inevitably led to mixed reactions among politicians.
Speaking after a statement by the arms chief General John de Chastelain, who confirmed that the IRA had disposed of the largest consignment of weapons so far, UUP leader David Trimble said the arms body had not done enough to meet his concerns.
He said there was a "lack of transparency" over IRA disarmament.
"There was clear agreement between us and republicans we were talking to that there should be greater transparency.
"We had made it very clear to the governments and General de Chastelain that what we needed was a transparent report of major acts of decommissioning of a nature
which would have a significant impact on public opinion and demonstrate that we were in a different context.
"Unfortunately we have not had that. We have not had that at all."
However, Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams said he did not know how the situation "could be sorted out" following Mr Trimble's remarks.
"We as a leadership... are profoundly disappointed and surprised at this latest turn of events," he said.
"We had an agreement. Republicans have delivered on that agreement.
"No-one was in any doubts about what was involved in our efforts to put together the next phases of this process. It required a date certain for the election, and we have got that.
"The we bent our will to ensure that that election occurred in an atmosphere which would lead to the sustainable, uninterrupted establishment of all of the institutions."
SDLP leader Mark Durkan said he was dismayed at the developments.
"What we had was hype this morning, hope this afternoon and now this evening it's a debacle," he said.
DUP deputy leader Peter Robinson said: "I think this is so bad for David Trimble that the prime minister could once again decide that he is going to go back and cancel the elections.
"I understand from my sources
that the prime minister is angry about what has happened, he doesn't believe that this was what was signed up to.
"David Trimble is apparently apoplectic at the present time - he is so angry about what is going on."
Hardline Ulster Unionist MP Jeffrey Donaldson said Mr Trimble had been "hung out to dry by the IRA".
"He thought he had a deal with Gerry Adams, but I am told it was not even committed to paper - what kind of a deal is that?
"The credibility of this deal is shot through to pieces tonight. The Ulster Unionists are going to have to go back to the drawing board on this one - we are going to have a tough time explaining this one to the electorate."
UK Unionist Robert McCartney said: "Either Trimble is up the left, to use a local expression, or Gerry is up the left, but it cannot be a political settlement for the future of Northern Ireland."
Alliance party leader David Ford said he was not sure he had seen "republicans accept in clear and unambiguous terms all that is in paragraph 13 of the joint declaration".
Jane Morrice of the Women's Coalition said all pro-Agreement parties had a huge task now in rebuilding public confidence "and in demonstrating their determination to make the process work".
Progressive Unionist Party leader David Ervine said while what had happened was significant, there was more to come.
"Since unionism always worries about the intent of republicans, not only what happens today but effectively every subsequent day for some period now, will either add to or detract from the quality of all of this today. So I think we have to wait and see," he said.
Most computers will open this document automatically. You may need to download Adobe Acrobat Reader to open this PDF document.