UNITED NATIONS The United Nations Security Council delayed until Wednesday a vote on a U.S.-Chinese drafted resolution that would dramatically expand U.N. sanctions on North Korea after Russia said it needed more time to review the text, diplomats said.
The vote, which had been scheduled for Tuesday afternoon, is now planned for 10 a.m. (1500 GMT) on Wednesday, the diplomats said on condition of anonymity.
"Subsequent to the United States' request ... to schedule a council vote for this afternoon, Russia invoked a procedural 24-hour review of the resolution, so the vote will be on Wednesday," the U.S. mission to the United Nations said in a statement to reporters.
The expanded sanctions, if adopted, would require inspections of all cargo going to and from North Korea and blacklisting North Koreans active in Syria, Iran and Vietnam.
After nearly two months of bilateral negotiations that at one point involved U.S. President Barack Obama and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, China agreed to support the unusually tough measures intended to persuade its close ally North Korea to abandon its atomic weapons program.
Last week the United States presented the 15-nation council with the draft resolution that would significantly tighten restrictions after North Korea's nuclear test and Feb. 7 rocket launch, and create what it described as the toughest U.N. sanctions regime in two decades.
Originally Washington had wanted the council to adopt the resolution last weekend but Russia had demanded more time to study it.
The draft seen by Reuters would require U.N. member states to conduct mandatory inspections of all cargo passing through their territory to or from North Korea to look for illicit goods. Previously states only had to do this if they had reasonable grounds to believe there was illicit cargo.
The list of explicitly banned luxury goods will be expanded to include luxury watches, aquatic recreational vehicles, snowmobiles worth more than $2,000, lead crystal items and recreational sports equipment.
Pyongyang denied the Feb. 7 launch involved banned ballistic missile technology, saying it was a peaceful satellite launch.
The official North Korean news agency KCNA said in a commentary on Monday its "position as a satellite manufacturer and launcher will never change (and) ... space development is not something to be given up because of someone's 'sanctions'."
It called the proposed sanctions "a wanton infringement on (North Korea's) sovereignty and grave challenge to it."
The proposal would also close a gap in the U.N. arms embargo on Pyongyang by banning all weapons imports and exports.
There would also be an unprecedented ban on the transfer to North Korea of any item that could directly contribute to the operational capabilities of its armed forces, such as trucks that could be modified for military purposes.
Other proposed measures include a ban on all supplies of aviation and rocket fuel to North Korea, a requirement for states to expel North Korean diplomats engaging in illicit activities, and blacklisting 16 North Korean individuals and 12 entities, including the National Aerospace Development Agency, or NADA, the body responsible for February's rocket launch.
North Korea has been under U.N. sanctions since 2006 because of its four nuclear tests and multiple rocket launches.
Candidates for the blacklist include Choe Chun-sik, who was head of North Korea's long-range missile program; Hyon Kwang Il, senior official at NADA; Yu Chol U, director of NADA; Jang Bom Sun and Jon Myong Guk, Tanchon Commercial Bank officials in Syria; Jang Yon Son and Kim Yong Chol, Korea Mining Development Trading Corporation (KOMID) representatives in Iran; and Kang Ryong and Ryu Jun, KOMID representatives in Syria.
Two Tanchon bank representatives in Vietnam are also to be blacklisted.
In addition to NADA, North Korean entities to be blacklisted include the Academy of National Defense Sciences, Chongchongang Shipping Co and the Ministry of Atomic Energy Industry.
Also new, countries will be required, not just encouraged, to freeze the assets of North Korean entities linked to Pyongyang's nuclear or missile programs and to prohibit the opening of new branches or offices of North Korean banks or to engage in banking correspondence with them.
(Reporting by Louis Charbonneau; Editing by Michael Perry and James Dalgleish)
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First Published On : Mar 1, 2016 23:16 IST