Six major powers on Saturday agreed a draft statement calling for new sanctions against North Korea over its long-range rocket launch that is expected to be adopted by the full UN Security Council Monday, diplomats said.
The non-binding statement was agreed in closed-door talks among the five permanent members of the council -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States -- plus Japan and was later submitted to the 10 non-permanent council members.
Mexico's UN Ambassador Claude Heller, the council chair this month, told reporters that the compromise text submitted by his US counterpart, Susan Rice, at an impromptu meeting of the 15-member body, "is an excellent basis for a consensual and clear message by the Security Council."
He said council members would now consult with their respective capitals ahead of a new council meeting scheduled for Monday afternoon "to approve the statement" which had been sought by Japan.
"What is important is that the Security Council acts in a very unified manner," he added. "I hope this goal will be achieved on Monday with a formal adoption of this draft."
"What the Council can do, and we hope will do, through the adoption of this statement is to send a very clear message to North Korea that what they have done under the guise of a satellite launch is in fact a violation of their obligations and indeed that there are consequences for such actions", Rice told reporters.
The proposed statement also called for the council "to adjust the measures imposed" in Resolution 1718 to include further sanctions against designated North Korean entities.
The entities once designated "would be subject to an asset freeze and the goods will be prohibited to be transferred to or from the DPRK," Rice said.
A Western diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, said a number of North Korean companies were to be subjected to an assets freeze by the end of the month.
Resolution 1718 provided for the creation of a Security Council panel to monitor sanctions against Pyongyang, but the commission was never activated so as not to jeopardize the six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear disarmament.
The draft also urges all parties to return to the six-party talks and to make progress towards the objectives of those talks aimed at the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
The talks, hosted by China and including the United States, South Korea, Japan and Russia, have stalled since December after Pyongyang refused to agree on ways of verifying its claims on nuclear disarmament moves.
The proposed statement, which falls short of a UN resolution which carries more weight, would also condemn last Sunday's North Korean rocket launch "which is in contravention of Security Council Resolution 1718."
That resolution, adopted in 2006 after North Korea's nuclear and missile tests, bars Pyongyang from conducting missile-related activities.
The text put forward by the US delegation also urges "a peaceful and diplomatic solution and welcomes efforts by council members as well as other member states to facilitate a peaceful and comprehensive solution through dialogue."
The United States, Japan, Britain and France had pressed for a strong UN response in the form of a resolution to the launch but China and Russia balked and urged restraint so as not to harm prospects for resuming the six-party talks.
Pyongyang has warned of "strong steps" if the United Nations censures it.
Source: AFP Asian Edition