US presents 'tougher, more comprehensive' UN North Korea resolution

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un guides military drills in an undated photo.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un guides military drills in an undated photo. PHOTO: REUTERS

UNITED NATIONS, United States (AFP) - The United States on Thursday presented a draft UN resolution that calls for "tougher, more comprehensive" sanctions on North Korea after it carried out nuclear and ballistic tests, the US ambassador said.

"It is a major upgrade" from past sanctions resolutions, Samantha Power told reporters ahead of a Security Council meeting to discuss the new package of measures.

"There will be, provided it goes forward, pressure on more points - tougher, more comprehensive - more sectors. It's breaking new ground in a whole host of ways," she said.

The draft text was presented to the 15-member council after the United States and China, Pyongyang's sole ally, agreed on the package of measures, capping six weeks of tough negotiations.

One diplomat described the draft resolution as a "significantly substantive text", while another said it contained "a large number of very tough measures," as well as names to be added to the UN sanctions blacklist.

Among the toughest measures, the United States had been pushing for mandatory inspections of all cargo destined to and originating from North Korea and banning North Korean ships from port calls, diplomats said.

The UN Security Council decided to impose new measures on North Korea after it carried out its fourth nuclear test on Jan 6 and test-fired a rocket on Feb 7.

Both tests were in violation of a series of resolutions barring North Korea from developing nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.

The United States and China had been at odds over how to respond to the latest tests.

Beijing fears too much pressure on Pyongyang could trigger the collapse of the pariah regime, unleashing chaos on its border.

The United States had argued that a tough international response was needed to the nuclear test that North Korea defiantly conducted, followed by the rocket launch a month later.

After the Washington and Beijing agreed on the draft resolution, French Ambassador Francois Delattre said "the conditions are now met" for a "strong and consensual" response from the Security Council.

"We believe we'll have soon a resolution establishing unprecedented sanctions," Delattre said.

Venezuela's Ambassador Rafael Ramirez, who holds the council presidency, said he expected a vote on the draft resolution at the weekend.

The council was holding a closed-door meeting to hear Power present the draft resolution and begin negotiations on possible amendments.

Japan's Ambassador Motohide Yoshikawa, who backed the US push for strong sanctions, said he was pleased "that we have come to this stage and hope that all members of the Security Council will agree with the text."

The council has imposed four sets of sanctions on North Korea since it first tested an atomic device in 2006.

There are 20 North Korean entities and 12 individuals on the UN sanctions blacklist, which provides for an assets freeze and a global travel ban.

But a UN panel of experts said this month that a decade of sanctions had failed to prevent Pyongyang from scaling up its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

After a raft of measures were adopted to restrict trade, banking and even ban luxury goods, the panel said it found "no indications that the country intends to abandon its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes."

"There are serious questions about the efficacy of the current United Nations sanctions regime," the experts said.

Investigations by the panel showed that Pyongyang has been successful at sanctions-busting, but the experts also faulted UN member-states, particularly in Africa, for failing to fully implement the measures.