The United Nations Security Council is meeting Tuesday to discuss new sanctions in response to North Korea's latest nuclear test.

The closed-door meetings come as diplomats report the United States and China have reached a tentative deal to punish Pyongyang for last month's test, its third and most powerful yet.

Diplomats told reporters late Monday they hope the council will be able to vote on a resolution by the end of the week. Details of the draft resolution were not immediately available.

The Security Council already unanimously condemned the February 12 nuclear test as a "grave violation" of existing U.N. sanctions on North Korea's nuclear and missile programs. Pyongyang said its test was aimed at its "arch-enemy," the United States.



China, North Korea's long-time ally, joined the rest of the 15-member Security Council in immediately condemning the test. But diplomats say China has been reluctant to agree to tough action against Pyongyang.

A spokesperson for China's foreign ministry said Tuesday that Beijing would support a "proper and moderate" response from the Security Council, insisting that any action be "conducive to denuclearization, non-proliferation and peace and stability on the peninsula."

Diplomats from Washington and Beijing have for weeks been in talks aimed at expanding or adding a fourth round of sanctions against the impoverished Communist state. Speaking anonymously, several diplomats have said both sides are nearing a deal.

North Korea is already under tough sanctions as a result of its previous nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009. In January, the Security Council expanded those sanctions in response to a December rocket launch.

The North says its latest tests prove that it can strike the mainland U.S. with a long-range missile. It has angrily rejected the U.N sanctions, and threatened to carry out more missile and nuclear tests in response to what it says is U.S. hostility.