UNITED NATIONS The United States has circulated a draft resolution to the U.N. Security Council that would condemn North Korea for its December rocket launch and calls for tightening existing U.N. sanctions, diplomats said on Monday.
The draft was the result of a deal between the United States and China, the envoys said on condition of anonymity. Even though the draft does not call for any new sanctions against Pyongyang, diplomats said China's support for the resolution represented a significant diplomatic blow to Pyongyang.
"We hope to have a vote midweek," one diplomat told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
China said earlier on Monday that the Security Council needed to pass a cautious resolution on North Korea, adding that was the best way to ensure regional tensions did not escalate further.
Russian U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin voiced Moscow's backing for the draft text last week.
"I expect we will support it," Russia's state-run RIA Novosti news agency quoted Churkin as saying. "I don't expect that the U.N. Security Council members will have any serious problems (with the resolution)."
"Our position is that the North Korean rocket launch is a violation of a U.N. Security Council resolution, so the council should react," Churkin said.
Details of the draft were not immediately available, although envoys said the 15-nation council had received it.
China is the North's only major diplomatic ally, although it agreed to U.N. sanctions against Pyongyang after North Korea's 2006 and 2009 nuclear tests.
North Korea is already banned under Security Council resolutions from developing nuclear and missile technology, but has been working steadily on its nuclear test site, possibly in preparation for a third nuclear test, satellite images show.
December's successful long-range rocket launch, the first to put a satellite in orbit, was a coup for North Korea's young leader, Kim Jong-un.
(Reporting By Louis Charbonneau; Editing by Peter Cooney)