The UN Security Council spoke with one voice to condemn North Korea for launching a missile, and found the April 5 firing of the rocket violated a 2006 resolution.
While no new sanctions were approved, the council on Monday agreed to make sanctions approved three years ago "effective by the end of the month", according to US ambassador to the UN Susan Rice.
The so-called presidential statement fell short of full resolution status because of opposition from China and Russia, which hold two of the five veto votes on the 15-member council. They were concerned that a harsher measure would undermine six-party talks aimed at getting Pyongyang to denuclearise.
Rice said the debate was "about tactics", not substance.
All involved "share a strong desire to achieve denuclearisation", Rice told CNN. The disagreement "was over how much pressure would be productive and how much would be counter-productive and drive North Korea further away from commitment", she said.
The measure was adapted unanimously, a prerequisite for issuing a presidential statement.
Japan had called for emergency council action after Pyongyang launched a ballistic Taepo-dong 2 missile, arguing that the rocket had flown across its territory and was a clear violation of the 2006 resolution that forbade North Korea from testing ballistic missiles.
The council warned North Korea to desist from any further testing, and announced its intention to "adjust" by month's end the sanctions already put in place in 2006.
The council urged resumption of the six-party talks involving China, North Korea, Japan, South Korea, Russia and the US and aimed at getting Pyonyang to dismantle its nuclear programme.
"The Security Council demands that (North Korea) not conduct any further launch," the panel said. It called for a "peaceful and diplomatic solution to the situation" and welcomed efforts to reach a
"comprehensive solution through dialogue".
In Washington Monday, US State Department spokesman Robert Wood said the measure sends a "very strong and coordinated message" to the North Koreans that "this type of activity cannot happen again, mustn't happen again".
The Taepo-dong 2 fell into the Pacific Ocean after crossing over Japanese territory, according to US and Japanese officials. North Korea insists it put a satellite into orbit, but no evidence of the orbiter has been found.
The Security Council in 2006 forbade North Korea to launch ballistic missiles and test any more nuclear bombs after it tested a nuclear bomb, and also issued sanctions against the hardline communist-governed country. The council fears the missiles could be used to deliver a nuclear bomb.
North Korea has played an on-again off-again game during years of talks with the international community, first moving to dismantle its nuclear reactor at Yongbyon, then threatening to reassemble it.
On Monday, the statement was read out by Ambassador Claude Heller of Mexico, which holds the Councils rotating presidency.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the council's statement, saying it "sends a unified message of the international community" on the missile launch.