U.N. panel prepares to expand North Korea sanctions: envoys
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United States, South Korea, Japan and European nations have submitted to the U.N. Security Council's North Korea sanctions committee lists of individuals and firms they want blacklisted after Pyongyang's recent rocket launch, envoys said on Monday.
Earlier this month the 15-nation council strongly condemned North Korea's April 13 rocket launch, called for adding new names to the list of those hit by existing U.N. sanctions and warned Pyongyang of further consequences if it carried out another missile launch or nuclear test.
"So far the United States, European council members, South Korea and Japan have proposed new designations ahead of tomorrow's midnight deadline (to agree on new names)," a council diplomat told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
It was not immediately clear which firms and individuals the council would blacklist, assuming it reached agreement.
The Security Council imposed sanctions on Pyongyang in response to its 2006 and 2009 nuclear tests.
China, North Korea's protector on the Security Council and a permanent veto-wielding member, also backed the council's "presidential statement" from two weeks ago, ensuring its unanimous adoption. The statement gave the council's North Korea sanctions committee 15 days to propose new sanctions listings.
"That deadline might be extended for a few days to give China a little more time to think about the proposed designations," another council diplomat said. The deadline for agreement is midnight EDT on Tuesday (0400 GMT on Wednesday).
"It looks as if China won't stand in the way of an agreement (on expanding the sanctions list) though they won't necessarily accept adding all the proposed individuals and entities," he added. Several other Western diplomats said they also expected China would agree to an expansion of the U.N. blacklist.
Diplomats say that if the committee can agree on adding new names to the blacklist, it will be a further sign of Beijing's irritation with its hermit neighbor over a satellite rocket launch North Korea had been widely urged not to carry out.
The North Korea sanctions committee includes all 15 council members. It works on the basis of consensus, which means any individual council member can block agreement.
The U.N. blacklist includes individuals facing international travel bans and asset freezes, companies whose assets are to be frozen and goods that North Korea is not allowed to export or import.
The current list includes eight companies and five individuals. Under two Security Council sanctions resolutions from 2006 and 2009, North Korea is barred from importing nuclear and ballistic-missile technology, as well as luxury goods.
(Reporting By Louis Charbonneau; Editing by Paul Simao)