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World News

U.N. panel close to naming N.Korea sanctions targets

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The U.N. Security Council neared agreement on Wednesday on North Korean firms and individuals to be added to a blacklist for involvement in Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs, diplomats said.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il (C) visits the newly built Taedonggang Tile Factory in Pyongyang in this picture released by North Korea's official news agency KCNA late July 14, 2009. KCNA did not state expressly the date when the picture was taken. REUTERS/KCNA

“We are very close” to agreement, Japanese Ambassador Yukio Takasu told reporters. Diplomats from several countries said a council committee that has been discussing the issue for a month was on target to meet a weekend deadline for completing its task and could do so as early as Thursday.

The committee, representing all 15 nations on the council, met twice on Wednesday and Turkish envoy Fazli Corman, who chairs the group, said it would meet again on Thursday.

Final agreement “may require some delegations to receive instructions from their capitals,” Corman said, adding, “The sense of urgency is there.”

The Security Council passed a resolution on June 12 that expanded U.N. sanctions against North Korea in response to a nuclear test it carried out on May 25, and asked the committee to add more names to the sanctions list.

The committee in April had already placed two North Korean companies and a bank on the list in its first action in two years. That move followed a long-range rocket launch earlier in the month by Pyongyang.

This week’s blacklisting is expected to go further by specifying individuals and goods to be subject to sanctions, as well as further companies.

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The measure would prohibit companies and nations around the world from doing business with the named firms and require them to freeze assets and impose travel bans on the individuals.

BUREAUCRATIC DELAYS

Names to be put on the list were submitted to the committee last month by the United States, Britain, France and Japan. Western diplomats said China and Russia had been slow to respond, but they believed the delays were mainly bureaucratic.

“We’re confident of an outcome which will be commensurate with DPRK (North Korea) actions and will be effective and will significantly improve the (sanctions) regime,” said one Western diplomat, speaking on condition he was not identified.

The sanctions are intended to target only companies and individuals connected to Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs, and diplomats said the proposed goods to be sanctioned were also all weapons-related.

The June 12 sanctions resolution banned all weapons exports from North Korea and most arms imports into the reclusive communist state.

It also authorized U.N. member states to inspect North Korean sea, air and land cargo, requiring them to seize and destroy any goods transported in violation of the sanctions.

North Korea responded by saying it would take “firm military action” if the United States and its allies tried to isolate it.

The sanctions committee was created after the Security Council adopted punitive measures against North Korea for its first nuclear test in October 2006.

Editing by Peter Cooney

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