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UN Sets Saturday Vote on North Korea Sanctions


The U.N. Security Council has tentatively agreed to impose stiff sanctions on North Korea for its apparent nuclear test. A formal vote is scheduled for Saturday.

The United States introduced a compromise draft resolution Friday that softens previous proposals for tough penalties on Pyongyang for its nuclear test claim.

Earlier drafts called for a total arms embargo. The latest version drops that. Instead, the measure would prohibit North Korea from trading in specific items, including combat aircraft, missiles and tanks.

The revised draft also softens the legally binding nature of the sanctions, to make clear that no military force would be used to enforce its terms.

The amendments were in response to concern voiced by Russia and China during negotiations late Thursday.

Washington's U.N. ambassador, John Bolton, says the resolution constitutes a prompt and resolute response to what many members have called North Korea's "outrageous behavior."

"We've already had hours and hours of negotiations since the nuclear test on Monday, and I remain hopeful that the Council can act by the end of the week, as I've said, however you want to define that. I think it's important that the Council provide a swift and strong response," he said.

Bolton said Washington is satisfied with the scope of the weapons ban, even though it will contain an exemption to allow North Korea to trade in small arms.

"We have proposed a compromise on the arms embargo that would place under embargo the most dangerous, most sophisticated, most lethal weapons. So, that's a substantial step forward," he said.

The draft would authorize countries to inspect all cargo entering or leaving North Korea to check for goods that could be related to ballistic missile or nuclear weapons production.

It also bans the import of luxury goods to the impoverished nation. Ambassador Bolton said the luxury goods ban was aimed specifically at North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, who is known for his lavish lifestyle.

"The North Korean population has been losing average height and weight over the years, and maybe this'll be a little diet for Kim Jong Il," he said.

As ambassadors and foreign ministers worked out final details of a Security Council resolution, a U.S. intelligence official told VOA experts analyzing data from sensor aircraft found no evidence of radiological fallout.

Pyongyang announced the test last Monday, and seismic evidence confirmed there was a large explosion at a remote North Korean site. The announcement was widely condemned, prompting the Security Council action.

But U.S. officials say it is still too early to determine whether it was an underground nuclear explosion or a conventional weapon.