Page last updated at 16:51 GMT, Wednesday, 10 June 2009 17:51 UK

N Korea draft resolution agreed

A North Korean soldier at the border village of Panmunjom, 9 June
North Korea recently tested a nuclear device, defying the Security Council

Key Security Council members have agreed on the wording of a draft UN resolution to expand sanctions against North Korea, diplomats say.

The move is a response to Pyongyang's recent nuclear and missile testing.

The agreement was reached by the five permanent council members, along with Japan and South Korea. The US's UN envoy said the draft was "very strong".

The full 15-nation council will discuss the draft later in the day with a vote expected on Friday.

The 34-point draft resolution proposes significantly tougher sanctions than those already in place.

It reasserts a UN ban on North Korean nuclear and ballistic missile tests and calls on Pyongyang to retract its decision to withdraw from the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT).

The draft also calls on all UN member states to carry out inspections of North Korean ships that may be carrying equipment related to weapons of mass destruction.

This sanctions regime, if passed by the UN Security Council, will bite and bite in a meaningful way
Susan Rice, US ambassador

States are also requested to increase vigilance over their financial dealings with Pyongyang.

Susan Rice, the US's ambassador to the UN, said the resolution contained "a very strong sanctions regime".

"I think both in terms of its elements and its inspection provisions it's the strongest regime that's currently in place - if it were to be adopted by the UN Security Council."

But Ms Rice said North Korea would "make its own judgement" and would have to "decide what sort of response and what sort of future it has".

"There's no guarantee obviously but it's important for the international community to speak with one voice," she said.

"It's important for there to be consequences and this sanctions regime, if passed by the UN Security Council, will bite and bite in a meaningful way."

'Merciless offensive'

An undated photo of North Korean missile test

Adoption of the resolution is virtually assured once the seven countries have endorsed it, diplomats told AFP news agency.

In recent weeks, North Korea has fired a long-range and several short-range missiles, and tested a nuclear device in defiance of the UN Security Council.

On Tuesday, North Korea said it would use nuclear weapons in a "merciless offensive" if provoked.

The US has said it has ruled out military action against the North in favour of international diplomatic efforts.

The US and Japan have been pushing for strong sanctions to punish North Korea for its nuclear test in May, but China and Russia have been wary about provoking Pyongyang's ire.

The BBC's Jonathan Marcus says it remains to be seen whether China would be prepared to carry out extensive searches of North Korean ships.

But if both China and Russia approve the proposed resolution, it would send a powerful signal of disapproval to Pyongyang, says our correspondent.

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