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UN chief hails NKorea sanctions amid US warning

UN chief Ban Ki-moon on Saturday hailed fresh sanctions against North Korea over its nuclear and missile programmes, but the United States warned the measures could prompt Pyongyang to retaliate.

world Updated: Jun 13, 2009 10:48 IST

UN chief Ban Ki-moon on Saturday hailed fresh sanctions against North Korea over its nuclear and missile programmes, but the United States warned the measures could prompt Pyongyang to retaliate.

China, North Korea's main ally, and South Korea welcomed the tougher stance against the secretive communist regime, with Beijing calling the resolution an "appropriate and balanced" reaction to Pyongyang's defiance.

All 15 members of the UN Security Council endorsed the compromise resolution sponsored by Britain, France, Japan, South Korea and the US to punish Pyongyang for an underground nuclear test on May 25 and its missile launches.

But while UN chief Ban said the resolution sent a "clear and strong message" to North Korea, US ambassador to the UN Susan Rice said it could provoke Pyongyang to further defiance.

Rice hailed the "very robust, tough regime, with teeth that will bite," and said the US would now confront ships believed to be carrying suspect material to North Korea and ask to board for checks.

But she warned: "Based on past experience and a pattern that North Korea has of reckless and dangerous actions, it would not be a surprise if North Korea reacted to this very tough sanctions regime in a fashion that would be further provocation."

US intelligence officials have reportedly warned President Barack Obama that Pyongyang would respond to a UN resolution condemning its actions with another nuclear test.

Meanwhile Beijing said it supported the Security Council's move.

"China supports that the UN Security Council reacts in an appropriate and balanced way, and has taken part in relevant negotiations with a responsible and constructive attitude," foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang was quoted as saying by the official Xinhua news agency.

Pyongyang's recent action "violates relevant UN Security Council resolutions, impairs the effectiveness of international mechanisms (for) nuclear non-proliferation, and also undermines peace and stability in northeast Asia," he said.

South Korea welcomed Resolution 1874, which does not authorise the use of force, and called on Pyongyang to "dismantle all its nuclear programmes and stop all activity related to ballistic missiles," a foreign ministry statement said.

The resolution calls for tougher inspections of cargo suspected of containing banned items related to North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile activities, a tighter arms embargo with the exception of light weapons, and new targeted financial restrictions to choke off an important source of revenue for Pyongyang's nuclear and missile sectors.

Ban said he hoped North Korea and all UN member states "will fully comply with the measures contained" in the resolution.

He reiterated "his conviction that all differences should be resolved in a peaceful manner through dialogue" and urged concerned parties to "refrain from taking any measures that can exacerbate tensions in the region".

Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso, whose country feels threatened by the North Korean actions, said: "We demand North Korea take seriously the international community's unbending message in the resolution and comply with it."

Britain and France hailed the adoption of the resolution as representative of a united international stance against North Korean proliferation activities, while Moscow called it "balanced and tailored to the current situation."

Canada commended the resolution for its call for the North to return to six-party talks on dismantling Pyongyang's nuclear programme. Those talks grouped the two Koreas, China, Japan the United States and Russia.

North Korea earlier warned it could take additional "self-defence measures" in response to any fresh sanctions. It has not yet responded to the UN's move.

Analysts say these "measures" could include a third nuclear test, the production of more nuclear weapons and the firing of long-range missiles.

First Published: Jun 13, 2009 10:46 IST