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UN to sanction N. Korea space agency: diplomat

The Unha-3 rocket lifts off in Cholsan county in North Korea's North Pyongan province on December 12, 2012
Photo taken by KCNA on December 12, 2012 shows the Unha-3 rocket lifting off in Cholsan county in North Korea's North Pyongan province. The UN will order sanctions against North Korea's space agency in a resolution to be passed this week condemning the st

The UN Security Council will order sanctions against North Korea's space agency in a resolution to be passed this week condemning the secretive state's ballistic launch, a diplomat said.

The resolution, which also targets other government entities and individuals linked to North Korea's nuclear weapons program, could be passed by the 15-member council as early as Wednesday.

The United States and China have been negotiating the new measures since North Korea staged its missile launch on December 12.

Despite near universal condemnation of the launch, China has sought to shield North Korea against major new action targeting its ally. The United States, supported by South Korea and Japan, had sought tough new punishment of the North Korean government.

North Korean rocket
Graphic on North Korea's space launch in December. The UN Security Council will order sanctions against Pyongyang in a resolution to be passed this week condemning the launch, a diplomatic source said Monday.

Under a compromise between the two, the new sanctions designations are expected to be added to measures imposed after North Korea staged nuclear weapons tests in 2006 and 2009.

"The resolution condemns the launch and reiterates the Security Council's previous demands that North Korea abandon its nuclear weapons program and not proceed with further launches," said the diplomatic source, speaking on condition of anonymity because the resolution has not yet been made public.

It "imposes new sanctions on North Korean companies, and government agencies, including North Korea's space agency responsible for the launch, and several individuals," the source said on Monday.

North Korea denied accusations by the United Nations and the international powers that the rocket was a ballistic test. Pyongyang said it was launching an observation satellite.

The proposed resolution updates lists of nuclear and ballistic missile technology banned for transfer to and from North Korea, added the source.

It includes "new provisions targeting North Korea's illicit procurement efforts, in particular its smuggling of sensitive items that could contribute to the prohibited programs," said the source, without giving details.

The UN Security Council is pictured during a meeting at the UN headquarters in New York on November 27, 2012
The UN Security Council is pictured during a meeting at the UN headquarters in New York on November 27, 2012.

Washington hopes for a quick vote on the draft resolution.

"The United States circulated the draft text today after getting agreement from China. The vote could be held Wednesday," one council diplomat told AFP.

The UN already has 11 banks, trading companies and other entities on an assets freeze list that has grown since the nuclear tests. The last three were added in May last year, one month after North Korea staged a failed rocket test.

The Security Council agreed on a presidential statement, with lower standing than a binding resolution, after the failed rocket launch in April.

The sanctions list also includes five individuals, while North Korea is barred from importing nuclear and ballistic-missile technology as well as luxury goods such as Mercedes cars and champagne.

The United States and China want a resolution passed before South Korea takes over the presidency of the Security Council in February, envoys said.

US and Chinese diplomats made no immediate comment on the new resolution now being considered.

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