After more than two weeks of negotiations among the permanent five veto-wielding members of the Security Council, the full 15-member council adopted a resolution Friday condemning and sanctioning North Korea for its May 25 underground nuclear test. The action came as concerns grow that Pyongyang may be preparing for yet another nuclear test.
U.S. envoy Rosemary DiCarlo said Resolution 1874 provides a strong and united international response to North Korea that its behavior is unacceptable.
"This resolution will give us new tools to impair North Korea's ability to proliferate and threaten international stability," she said.
Among its provisions, Resolution 1874 strengthens an existing arms embargo and expands it to include a ban on all weapons exports from North Korea. It also allows for the inspection of suspect cargo on ships and airplanes, and the confiscation and disposal of any banned items that are found.
On the financial side, the resolution forbids transactions and money flows that could support Pyongyang's missile or nuclear program. It also prohibits all financial assistance other than for humanitarian or development purposes.
Britain's Deputy Ambassador Philip Parnham was one of several council members who was quick to point out that these sanctions are targeted at North Korea's leaders and not its people.
"These measures are carefully targeted at the nuclear and missile and weapons of mass destruction programs of North Korea, we are not talking here about general economic sanctions. These measures should not adversely affect the economic situation of the people of North Korea, which as we all know is already dire," he said.
One of the resolution's strengths is that it has the backing of Pyongyang's allies China and Russia.
Chinese Ambassador Zhang Yesui told reporters after the vote that Beijing was firmly opposed to North Korea's nuclear test and wants to see a denuclearized Korean peninsula. He said China voted for the resolution because it is balanced and offers a way out for Pyongyang.
"As you can see from the language, the resolution not only contains sanction measures, it also contains some positive messages to the DPRK. It also emphasizes the importance of addressing the DPRK nuclear issue peacefully, through political and diplomatic means," he said.
The text also provides for the possibility of the lifting of or suspending of sanctions if North Korea complies with several measures.
North Korea's ambassador was not present at Friday's vote. In the past Pyongyang has dismissed Security Council action against it.
The council has imposed sanctions on North Korea before, but has not strictly enforced them, in part, because North Korea participated in the Six Party Talks. But recently, Pyongyang has said it is done with dialogue, and ratcheted up rhetoric, saying it would use its nuclear weapons against any country violating its sovereignty.