UNITED NATIONS - The United States today proposed an array of UN sanctions against North Korea, including authorisation to inspect cargo for dangerous weapons, in response to Pyongyang's claim it tested a nuclear weapon.
US Ambassador John Bolton was drawing up a draft Security Council resolution, which includes 13 elements that members are considering. But it is not clear whether Russia and China will impose sanctions, although they condemned the testing.
Among the US proposals are an arms embargo, the freezing of financial assets connected with weapons of mass destruction -- and even a ban on luxury items, according to a document read to Reuters.
In an initial response to the announcement of a nuclear test, Security Council members "strongly" condemned North Korea test during consultations, according to Japan's UN ambassador, Kenzo Oshima, this month's council president.
"We're looking for very swift action by the Security Council," Bolton told reporters. "We think it's important to respond even to the claim of a nuclear test by the North Koreans and we'll be going 24/7 if we need to be to get this resolution adopted quickly."
China's UN Ambassador Wang Guangya said the council should react "firmly, constructively (but) prudently with regard to this challenge."
The United States launched the Proliferation Security Initiative in May 2003 that aims to encourage member countries to share intelligence and train to interdict weapons from North Korea, Iran and other states of concern.
Australia, Japan, Singapore, Thailand and New Zealand are the only Asia-Pacific region countries to back the initiative publicly, although the group says it has support from 60 nations.
The Security Council has already imposed weapons-related sanctions on North Korea, and many of Bolton's proposals would repeat or strengthen those measures.
Among other US proposals was a suspension of all activities related to the North's ballistic missile programme as well as materials with direct or dual use applications for dangerous weapons.
Another would have countries take steps to prevent abuse of financial processes, an apparent reference to counterfeit currency Washington says North Korea is using, participants in the council consultations reported.
North Korea announced on Monday that it had conducted its first underground nuclear test. It had said last week that it was preparing the test, prompting the Security Council to warn Pyongyang on Friday of unspecified consequences if it did.
Pyongyang's UN ambassador, Pak Gil Yon, told reporters that the test would help "the maintenance and guarantee of peace and security in the (Korean) peninsula and the region."
Instead of pursuing "reckless" statements or resolutions, Pak said, the Security Council should congratulate North Korea's scientists and researchers.
The United States, Britain and France, want a resolution under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, which allows for sanctions and even war, but the 15-member Security Council must specifically state what kind of action it wants.
"The discussion will be on sanctions," France's UN Ambassador Jean-Marc de la Sabliere told reporters. "The time has come to have a Chapter 7 resolution."
"Action under Chapter 7 is what is appropriate," Britain's Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry told reporters. "We will have to look at what sort of measures can be agreed by the council."