US, China agree on UN N. Korea resolution: diplomats

US Secretary of State John Kerry speaks during a press conference with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi at the State Department in Washington, DC

United Nations (United States) (AFP) – The United States and China have agreed on a draft resolution imposing fresh sanctions on North Korea and the Security Council could vote on the measure in the coming days, diplomats said.

The United States circulated the draft text to the other three permanent council members — Britain, France and Russia — on Wednesday and was set to formally present it to the full 15-member council soon, said the diplomats, who asked not to be named.

“There is good progress on the resolution and we are hopeful that there will be an adoption in the coming days,” a council diplomat said. 

Negotiations on the draft resolution began six weeks ago after North Korea carried out its fourth nuclear test on January 6 and claimed it was a thermonuclear device.

“There were a significant number of blockage points between these two countries,” said the diplomat, referring to the United States and China. “But there is agreement between these two countries.”

After talks in Washington on Tuesday with China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi, US Secretary of State John Kerry said “there is no question that if the resolution is approved, it will go beyond anything that we have previously passed.”

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

– A decade of sanctions –

Among the toughest measures, the United States had been pushing for a ban on North Korean ships in all ports, but that met with strong resistance from China.

Beijing has been reluctant about backbiting sanctions that would take aim at North Korea’s already weak economy out of concern that the isolated state could collapse, unleashing chaos on China’s border.

After North Korea carried out a rocket launch on February 6, the Security Council renewed its pledge to impose new sanctions to punish Pyongyang.

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.

A UN panel of experts said in the council this month that sanctions had failed to prevent Pyongyang from scaling up its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

After a decade of sanctions, the panel said it found “no indications that the country intends to abandon its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.”

“There are serious questions about the efficacy of the current United Nations sanctions regime,” the experts said in a confidential report.

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