The United States and China have reached agreement on a U.N. resolution that would impose tougher sanctions on North Korea as punishment for its latest and rocket launch, U.N. diplomats said Wednesday.
One Security Council diplomat called the draft resolution "significantly substantive" and expressed hope that it will be adopted in the coming days. Another said the draft had been circulated on Wednesday to the three other permanent council members — Russia, Britain and France.
The Security Council is scheduled to hold closed consultations Thursday afternoon on compliance with the North Korean sanctions resolutions, and the U.S.-China draft could be discussed then with the 10 non-permanent council members.
Both diplomats spoke on condition of anonymity because all discussions on the proposed resolution have been private.
China and the United States have had different views on how strong the response should be to North Korea since Pyongyang's nuclear test last month with Washington urging harsh punitive measures and Beijing emphasizing dialogue and milder U.N. steps that are confined to non-proliferation.
The draft resolution is expected to call for the blacklisting of a number of individuals and entities, diplomats said. They were reluctant to provide further details.
North Korea's Ministry of Atomic Energy Industry and its National Aerospace Development Agency (NADA), the body responsible for February's rocket launch, will be amongst the sanctioned entities, South Korea's Yonhap news reported.
The secretive General Reconnaissance Bureau, already sanctioned by the United States for its suspected role in the 2014 cyber attack on Sony Pictures, was also included in the blacklist, Yonhap said.
News of the draft follows a flurry of activity in Washington, including meetings between China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday, and with National Security Adviser Susan Rice on Wednesday afternoon.
National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said Rice and Wang agreed "on the importance of a strong and united international response to North Korea's provocations, including through a U.N. Security Council resolution that goes beyond previous resolutions."
"They agreed that they will not accept North Korea as a nuclear weapons state," Price said.
Earlier on Wednesday, Kerry told a Congressional hearing: "We're on the brink of achieving a strong United Nations Security Council resolution."
North Korea started off the new year with what it claims was its first hydrogen bomb test on Jan. 6 and followed that up with the launch of a satellite on a rocket on Feb. 7 that was condemned by much of the world as a test of banned missile technology.
Over the past 10 years, North Korea has conducted four nuclear tests and launched six long-range missiles — all in violation of Security Council resolutions.
South Korea's U.N. Ambassador Oh Joon has urged the Security Council to adopt "extraordinary" measures to make clear to the North "that it will no longer tolerate its nuclear weapons development."