U.S. to Submit Draft Resolution to UN Security Council on Expanded North Korean Sanctions

The latest nuclear weapons test triggered discussions between Washington and Beijing regarding a just response to the hermit state's provocation.

Louis Charbonneau
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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspects a flight drill of fighter pilots in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency on February 21, 2016.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspects a flight drill of fighter pilots in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency on February 21, 2016.Credit: Reuters
Louis Charbonneau

REUTERS - The United States will submit to the UN Security Council on Thursday a draft resolution that would expand sanctions against North Korea over its latest nuclear test, a spokesman for the U.S. mission to the United Nations said.

"Ambassador (Samantha) Power intends to submit for consideration by the Security Council a draft sanctions resolution in response to (North Korea's) recent nuclear test and subsequent proscribed ballistic missile launch," spokesman Kurtis Cooper said in a statement.

"We look forward to working with the council on a strong and comprehensive response to the DPRK's (North Korea's) latest series of tests aimed at advancing their nuclear weapons program," he said.

On Wednesday council diplomats said the United States and China had agreed on a draft resolution and hoped to put it to a vote in the 15-nation council in the coming days.

The two veto powers had been negotiating on the text for the past seven weeks following Pyongyang's fourth nuclear test on Jan. 6.

"It's a substantive, long, full draft," a senior council diplomat said.

In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said "important progress" had been made on the resolution and that "hopefully consensus can be reached soon".

"We hope and believe this new resolution can help effectively constrain North Korea from further developing its nuclear missile program," Hua told a regular press briefing on Thursday.

The draft resolution is expected to call for the blacklisting of a number of individuals and entities, diplomats said. They were reluctant to provide further details.

North Korea's Ministry of Atomic Energy Industry and its National Aerospace Development Agency or 'NADA', the body responsible for February's rocket launch, will be amongst the sanctioned entities, South Korea's Yonhap news reported.

The secretive General Reconnaissance Bureau, already sanctioned by the United States for its suspected role in the 2014 cyber attack on Sony Pictures, was also included in the blacklist, Yonhap said.

The council is scheduled to discuss the UN North Korea sanctions regime on Thursday at 2 P.M., the UN press office said.

China and the United States have differed on how strong the response should be to Pyongyang's nuclear test, with Washington urging harsh punitive measures and Beijing emphasizing dialogue and milder U.N. steps confined to non-proliferation.

Western diplomats told Reuters that limiting North Korean access to international ports was among the measures Washington was pushing Beijing to accept.

Washington also wanted to tighten restrictions on North Korean banks' access to the international financial system, the diplomats said.

North Korea has been under UN sanctions since 2006 because of its multiple nuclear tests and rocket launches. In addition to a UN arms embargo, Pyongyang is banned from importing and exporting nuclear and missile technology and is not allowed to import luxury goods.

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