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Japan Acknowledges UN Security Council Split on N. Korea Sanctions

With Japanese hopes fading of the U.N. Security Council punishing North Korea for its provocative rocket launch, Tokyo's diplomats are stressing consensus that includes China and Russia.

With China and Russia unlikely to support Japan's call for fresh punitive action by the U.N. Security Council, the government here appears increasingly resigned to settle for the second best option. Tokyo's diplomats say that would be a diluted response admonishing Pyongyang for violating previous Security Council resolutions barring it from work on ballistic-missile systems.

Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso acknowledges disagreement among the five permanent Security Council members, but says he wants to continue diplomatic efforts.

Mr. Aso tells reporters a clear message must be quickly delivered to the North Koreans for Sunday's launch, despite repeated warnings not to proceed.

North Korea claims it placed an experimental communications satellite into space. The United States and others say the multistage rocket fell into the Pacific Ocean and nothing reached orbit.

The Taepodong-2 missile is believed to have traveled about 3,200 kilometers. That is double the range North Korea achieved with a launch 11 years ago.

Japan says the North Korean rocket spent about seven minutes Sunday flying over two Japanese prefectures.

Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone reiterated Japan feels threatened by the North Korean launch because the same technology to place a satellite into space could be used to fire a warhead at Tokyo.

Responding to questions from foreign correspondents, Nakasone says North Korea would only have the right to develop space technology if it gets rid of its nuclear programs.

Japan's lower house of parliament, acting two days after the provocative launch, approved a resolution for new sanctions to be imposed on North Korea by the Japanese government.

Japan's Cabinet is expected Friday to pursue additional economic sanctions against North Korea, with which it has no diplomatic relations.