The United States said Thursday that it is pushing for U.N. sanctions against North Korea for its long-range missile test and subsequent expulsion of international monitors from its Yongbyon nuclear reactor complex. U.S. officials want to curb North Korea's import of goods that could be used to advance its nuclear and missile programs.
Obama administration officials say their overriding aim still is to get North Korea to return to negotiations over its nuclear program.
But they say Pyongyang has to face consequences for its missile test and expulsion of nuclear monitors, thus Washington is seeking new sanctions at the United Nations.
Under the statement it issued on Monday condemning the North Korean missile launch, the U.N. Security Council instructed the sanctions committee to reach agreement by next week on entities to be targeted.
At a news briefing, State Department Acting Spokesman Robert Wood said the United States on Wednesday presented the committee with a list of companies it wants to see penalized and cited categories of goods to which North Korea should be denied access.
"The committee met yesterday," Wood said. "There will be additional rounds of consultations. And then they will agree on a list of those goods and entities. And that will be made public as you know. And then member states will be required to prevent the north from getting access to these goods and entities from supplying the types of material that we don't want to see get to the north."
The U.S. list is understood to include 11 North Korean companies that already face American sanctions for involvement in the country's lucrative trade in weapons-of-mass destruction technology. Japan has also submitted a proposed list of 15 entities it would like to see penalized.
The U.N. Security Council's permanent members, including Russia and China, would have to agree to the sanctions. The two powers had resisted severe council action in response to the missile test. The State Department's Robert Wood said the United States has had "good conversations" with Russia and China on the latest developments and will continue to work with them on "a way forward" with regard to North Korea.
North Korea said that Monday's Security Council statement, condemning what North Korea depicts as a satellite launch, was an "unbearable insult" and prompted its decision to leave the Chinese-sponsored nuclear talks and expel international monitors from Yongbyon.
Asked whether U.N. sanctions might provoke another sharp reaction by Pyongyang, a senior State Department official said North Korea cannot be rewarded for bad behavior and that it will have to face the consequences.
The official said the United States has been in direct contact with North Korea in recent days through its mission to the United Nations. He also said the Obama administration's special envoy for North Korea, Stephen Bosworth, might visit the region "when the time is right."
In comments a few days before the North Korean missile test, Bosworth said nuclear negotiations with Pyongyang, idle for the last several months, would probably resume after a cooling-off period.