A senior U.S. official says North Korea's apparent nuclear test has rallied support for international penalties against both North Korea and Iran. The Security Council will consider sanctions against both countries in the next few days.
U.S. diplomats are asking the Security Council to approve tough sanctions against North Korea by the end of the week. A draft sanctions resolution circulated to Council members late Wednesday and obtained by VOA demands that Pyongyang eliminate its nuclear weapons program. It also imposes a strict arms embargo, financial sanctions, and a ban on the import of luxury goods.
The U.S. move came hours after President Bush said he sees a new consensus building among the world's major powers that it is vital to send "a clear message" to the government in Pyongyang.
Separately, Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns said Washington is seeking immediate Security Council sanctions against Iran for its nuclear activities. Speaking to the privately-funded Council on Foreign Relations in New York, Burns said Tehran's rejection of a U.S.-European diplomatic initiative had left no alternative but sanctions.
"We put an offer on the table. We asked them to choose. They have chosen at least temporarily, so we now need to go the sanctions regime, because the Iranians have to understand there has to be a price for essentially being a major international outlaw, and I guess next to North Korea, the
greatest international outlaw in the nuclear realm today," he said.
Burns said the five permanent Security Council members, Britain, France,China, Russia and the United States, have reached broad agreement on an Iran sanctions resolution. Specifics of the sanctions are still being worked out.
The U.S. official said North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il's nuclear defiance had awakened world leaders on the need to put aside their difference and unite to oppose Iran's nuclear ambitions. "We can now see that, because maybe the unintended consequence of the dear leader in North Korea, and what he did the other night, is bringing South Korea and Japan together, and he's bringing China, Russia and Japan, South Korea and the United States, the five parties of the six-parties in the six-party talks together as well," he said.
Burns said there is a growing understanding among world leaders of Washington's position that the North Korean and Iranian nuclear issues are "tied together".
"[There is] a real degree of unity that what happened was unsustainable, intolerable. And had to be responded to with a great deal of diplomatic strength. And so out of this crisis in North Korea comes an opportunity for us to strengthen our strategic position in Asia, and to reform the coalition of countries to respond both to North Korea and Iran," he said.
Burns said he had held a videoconference Wednesday with senior diplomats from Germany, France, China, Russia, and Britain, along with European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana to discuss strategy on Iran.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad charged Wednesday that some world powers are trying to bully Iran over its nuclear program. He did not name those countries, but said the U.N. Security Council has no right to interfere with Iran's nuclear program.
Iran has denied it is trying to build nuclear weapons, and says its nuclear program is peaceful.