The UN Security Council is prepared to pass a unanimous statement as early as Monday that would condemn North Korea's rocket launch but stop short of a stronger resolution backed by Japan and the US. The statement, agreed on in a rare Saturday session of the 15-member council, would order North Korea to comply with a 2006 resolution or face further sanctions.
The plans emerged after the council's five veto powers - the US, Russia, China, France and Britain - agreed on the statement after a week of wrangling. Japan had demanded an emergency council session after North Korea sent a missile across its territory last Sunday. China and Russia opposed a stronger resolution.
The US ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, said the proposal sent a clear message to North Korea, it was a legally binding motion of the Security Council and would fulfil all of Washington's goals. The draft "condemns the launch of April 5 and it makes it plain" that the launch contravenes a council resolution from 2006 that banned Pyongyang from testing missiles.
She said the draft also raises the possibility of additional sanctions against North Korea if it does not comply, in the form of asset freezes and other sanctions. It calls for a resumption of the six-party talks aimed at getting Pyongyang to dismantle its nuclear programme.
The document is to be put before the 15-member council for a vote Monday, a spokesman for the US mission said. In the proposal, the council would find that North Korea's firing of the missile violated the 2006 UN resolution. The panel would condemn the action and demand that no further such tests are carried out.
A declaration must be adopted unanimously and is a milder form of reaction compared to a resolution.
The 2006 resolution followed North Korea's first successful test of a nuclear bomb and issued sanctions against the hardline communist-governed country. The resolution forbade Pyongyang from testing long-range missiles which it feared could be used to deliver a nuclear bomb.
Japan, which has levied its own set of new sanctions against North Korea, has demanded a swift and decisive response. North Korea insists it put a communications satellite into orbit, but no evidence of the orbiting object has been found.