Draft U.N. resolution condemns North Korea nuclear test

UNITED NATIONS Thu May 28, 2009 3:42pm EDT

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - A draft resolution being circulated among key Security Council members strongly condemns North Korea's nuclear test and urges U.N. members to begin enforcing previously approved sanctions against Pyongyang.

The council "condemns in the strongest terms the nuclear test conducted by (North Korea) on 25 May 2009 in flagrant violation and disregard of its relevant resolutions," said the draft, which was obtained by Reuters on Thursday.

It "calls upon all member states immediately to enforce the measures that were put in place by resolution 1718," passed in October 2006 after North Korea's first nuclear test.

That resolution banned further atomic tests and long-range missile launches by Pyongyang and imposed limited sanctions on North Korea that have been widely ignored and unenforced.

The preliminary draft resolution was prepared by Japan and the United States. It will be discussed by the permanent council members, Japan and non-council member South Korea later on Thursday, a U.N. diplomat said.

The draft text leaves one section empty, where the diplomat said proposals for specific new measures would be added once they are agreed by the seven countries. Once the seven agree on a draft, they will circulate it to the full 15-nation council.

Diplomats said measures under discussion are the addition of more companies to the U.N. blacklist of firms aiding Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programs and expanding the arms embargo to ban the import and export of all arms, not just heavy weapons.

Other possibilities include increased restrictions on North Korea's financial and banking relations with the rest of the world, restrictions on flights to and from North Korea and the designation of North Korean officials to face travel bans and asset freezes, diplomats said.

The goal of the sanctions is to target North Korea's leadership and not the country's 23 million people living in poverty, the diplomats said.

They said the council would probably not be ready to vote on a draft resolution until next week at the earliest.

Diplomats said the seven countries had agreed in principle that some sanctions should be imposed on North Korea, though it was not yet clear what measures China and Russia, which are generally reluctant to approve sanctions, will find acceptable.

(Editing by Jackie Frank)