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US proposes new sanctions against North Korea to UN Security Council

The United States has submitted a draft resolution geared at punishing the North Korean regime for its nuclear tests. Recent actions from Pyongyang have triggered the response officials say China also supports.

US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power started a push for new sanctions Thursday against Pyongyang in response to the country's controversial nuclear weapons program.

"It is a major upgrade and there will be, provided it goes forward, pressure on more points, tougher, more comprehensive, more sectors," Power said. "It's breaking new ground in a whole host of ways."

Power made her comments ahead of a closed-door meeting of the United Nations Security Council. She also said the sanctions called for in the draft resolution represented the "strongest set of sanctions imposed by the Security Council in more than two decades."

Sanctions ' target elite'

Under the proposed sanctions, the sale of small arms and other conventional weapons to North Korea would be banned - closing a loophole in previous resolutions. Exports of coal, iron, gold, titanium and other rare minerals to North Korea would also be limited and in some cases banned, Power said, stressing that the sanctions targeted North Korea's ruling elite as opposed to the country's people.

The resolution would also include financial sanctions aimed at North Korean banks and assets and ban all dual use nuclear missile related items.

Included on an extensive list of luxury items which North Korea would no longer be allowed to import are products such as luxury watches, snowmobiles, recreational water vehicles and lead crystal.

Watch video 02:06

US, China call for tougher sanctions on North Korea

US secures Chinese backing

Diplomats announced that China had agreed to the draft proposal earlier on Thursday, after weeks of tense negotiations. The two countries had disagreed on how strongly to punish North Korea for its violations of past Security Council resolutions.

After Washington and Beijing agreed on the draft resolution, French Ambassador Francois Delattre said "the conditions are now met" for a "strong and consensual" response from the Security Council.

A vote on the proposed resolution is expected this weekend.

The Council first imposed sanctions on Pyongyang back in 2006, and the US has argued for further sanctions since the country has so far not been deterred from going forward with its nuclear ambitions.

North Korea shocked the world when it launched what it claimed was a satellite-bearing rocket in early February, not long after it had tested a hydrogen bomb.

blc/sms (Reuters, AFP)

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