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China Joins Call for 'Punitive Actions' Against North Korea

China has agreed that its ally North Korea should be punished for conducting a nuclear test. The Security Council is discussing a U.S. proposal for tough sanctions.

China's U.N. ambassador, Wang Guangya, says Beijing will go along with U.S. and Japanese demands for punitive measures against North Korea.

"I think there has to be some punitive actions, but also I think these actions have to be appropriate," said Wang.

China has in the past been reluctant to allow sanctions against its reclusive neighbor, and Ambassador Wang did not say what punishment Beijing considers appropriate. But he suggested it would be less than the stringent cargo inspection regime and total arms embargo proposed by Washington and Tokyo.

"We need to have a firm, constructive, appropriate, but prudent responses to the North Korea's nuclear test," he said.

Members of the Security Council held several meetings and consultations in hopes of quickly crafting a sanctions resolution. America's U.N. ambassador, John Bolton, said there is broad agreement among the Council's 15 members on the need for prompt action.

"There is a strong view to move as quickly as we can, and I think from the discussion in the Security Council on Monday that was a view shared by all, that we want both a strong resolution and a swift response by the Council," said Bolton. We do not want a tradeoff between those two variables. We want both."

Japan, which holds the Security Council presidency this month, favors even tougher punitive measures than those proposed by the United States. Japan's U.N. ambassador, Kenzo Oshima, says despite the shared sense of urgency over the North Korean tests, a lot of negotiating must be done before a sanctions resolution is ready for a vote.

"All I can say is we are having very good discussions trying to identify what really we are going to be able to achieve. And I think there is general understanding also about the need to get our act together, and fast. On that we agree," Oshima said.

The urgency of the U.N. talks was underlined by news of more aggressive comments from Pyongyang. South Korean news media reported a North Korean warning it might launch a nuclear-tipped missile unless the United States accepts its terms for one-on-one talks.

The United States has said dialogue with North Korea is only possible in the context of six-party talks that also involve South Korea, Japan, China and Russia.

The Pyongyang government walked out of those talks more than a year ago. It has refused to return unless Washington drops financial restrictions imposed on Pyongyang for its alleged involvement in a money-laundering and counterfeiting scheme.