UNITED NATIONS — The U.N. Security Council has unanimously adopted a resolution expanding and strengthening sanctions against North Korea. Tuesday’s action was a response to Pyongyang’s launch of a long-range rocket last month - a violation of existing U.N. resolutions.
Tuesday’s vote follows weeks of intense negotiations between the United States and China. The two powers reached a deal and presented a draft to the other 13 members of the U.N. Security Council on Monday, and the measure moved quickly to a vote.
U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice said the resolution reflects the unity of the Security Council.
“We believe that today’s resolution is a firm, united and appropriate response to North Korea’s reckless act, and that strict enforcement of sanctions is essential to address the threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs,” Rice said.
In addition to condemning the December 12 rocket launch, the resolution imposes new travel bans and asset freezes on several North Korean individuals and companies. Also sanctioned are the Pyongyang government’s space agency and a domestic bank that facilitates weapons-related transactions.
China’s Ambassador Li Baodong welcomed adoption of the resolution and urged the parties to use it to make progress on the political and diplomatic fronts and avoid an escalation of tension on the Korean peninsula.
“The message is very strong and clear from this resolution. That is, all stakeholders should work together, should talk to each other, and address concerns to consultations and to have early resumption of Six Party Talks,” Li said.
North Korea quit the Six Party Talks with South Korea, China, Japan, the United States and Russia in April 2009, after the Security Council criticized Pyongyang for a rocket launch believed to have used long-range ballistic missile technology.
South Korean Ambassador Kim Sook said Pyongyang should abandon its nuclear-weapons program and missile technology, saying it will not be tolerated by the international community, and he urged North Korea to end its international isolation.
“If North Korea tries to do everything to become the responsible member of the international community, the Republic of Korea stands ready to help them in every way possible to facilitate their inclusion in the international community,” Kim said.
In a statement, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who is a former South Korean foreign minister, called on the North to refrain from any further rocket launches or nuclear tests. He he urged all parties to resume dialogue as the only way to achieve denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and peace in the region.