UNITED NATIONS • The US is submitting a draft resolution to the UN Security Council that would expand sanctions against North Korea over its latest nuclear test.
In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying said "important progress" had been made on the resolution. "We hope and believe this new resolution can help effectively constrain North Korea from further developing its nuclear missile programme," she told a regular press briefing.
China and the United States, which hold veto powers as members of the Security Council, had been negotiating the text of the draft resolution for the past seven weeks following Pyongyang's fourth nuclear test on Jan 6. A breakthrough apparently came after a meeting between Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his American counterpart John Kerry in Washington earlier this week.
Following the meeting, Mr Wang said: "We do not accept the DPRK's nuclear missile programme and we do not recognise the DPRK as a nuclear weapons state." DPRK is the abbreviation for North Korea's official name Democratic People's Republic of Korea. He added that both sides were looking to the possibility of reaching agreement on a draft resolution and passing it soon.
Both men said the goal of the resolution is not to worsen the stand-off with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's isolated regime, but to persuade it to resume talks on ending its nuclear programme.
A defiant North yesterday renewed its threat to turn South Korea, the US and American bases in the Pacific into a "sea of fire" as it slammed an upcoming military exercise between the two allies. The threat appeared in Rodong Sinmun, North Korea's main newspaper.
Seoul and Washington will hold their largest-ever military drills, involving a series of strategic weapons, from next month, The North claims the drills are a rehearsal for an invasion of the communist state.
Heightened tensions on the Korean peninsula have made South Korea more receptive to the idea of letting the US deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (Thaad) system on Korean soil. But the planned deployment has stoked fears in Beijing, which is worried it could help Washington expand its military power in the region.
Ministry of National Defence spokesman Wu Qian said the coverage of the Thaad missile defence system extends into the hinterlands of Asia. This would not only directly damage China's strategic security interests, but also harm global strategic stability, he said, according to Xinhua news agency.
We hope and believe this new resolution can help effectively constrain North Korea from further developing its nuclear missile programme.
CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESMAN HUA CHUNYING, at a regular press briefing yesterday.
"We resolutely oppose any country using the Korean peninsula nuclear issue as an excuse to encroach on China's rights and interests, and the Chinese army will firmly safeguard national security interests."
Mr Kerry had said after his meeting with Mr Wang that there would be no need to deploy Thaad if North Korea agreed to abandon its nu- clear weapons programme.
Since 2006, North Korea has been under UN sanctions because of its multiple nuclear tests and rocket launches.
On Wednesday, council diplomats said the US and China had agreed on the draft resolution and hoped to put it to a vote in the 15-nation council in the coming days.
The draft resolution was to be submitted late yesterday, and is expected to call for the blacklisting of a number of individuals and entities, diplomats said.
North Korea's Ministry of Atomic Energy Industry and its National Aerospace Development Agency will be among the sanctioned entities, South Korea's Yonhap news reported. The secretive General Reconnaissance Bureau, already sanctioned by the US for its suspected role in the 2014 cyber attack on Sony Pictures, was included in the blacklist, Yonhap said.
Western diplomats have told Reuters that limiting North Korean access to international ports was among the measures Washington was pushing Beijing to accept.
REUTERS, BLOOMBERG, AGENCE-FRANCE PRESSE