China, Russia Delay United Nations Action on Sanctions Against North Korea Over Nuclear Test

North Korea's allies China and Russia raised questions Tuesday about some possible new sanctions against North Korea for its recent nuclear test, delaying Security Council action sought by key Western powers, U.N. diplomats said.

But, getting a resolution out quickly is less important than getting one that has teeth, they said.

"We need meaningful sanctions," France's U.N. Ambassador Jean-Maurice Ripert stressed.

Turkey's U.N. Ambassador Baki Ilkin, the current Security Council president, said the draft resolution currently being discussed is "a highly complex text."

"It takes time, and we must get it right, so one or two days later or earlier is not that important," he told reporters. "What is important is that we do have this resolution that has an impact."

The United States, Britain and France have been pressing for a speedy council response to Pyongyang's underground nuclear test on May 25, and ambassadors from the three countries have been meeting with their counterparts from China, Russia and the two countries most closely affected by the test, Japan and South Korea, to draft a new resolution.

Some council diplomats had privately predicted that the seven countries would agree on a draft on Tuesday which would then be circulated to all 15 members of the Security Council.

But China and Russia raised some issues, what one diplomat described as a lot of little sticking points, so negotiations among the seven countries were continuing, diplomats said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the consultations are private.

Ripert expressed hope that a draft could be circulated to the full council, possibly Wednesday. Ilkin said "I would hope that we will have something in the course of this week, hopefully."

Russia's Foreign Ministry said in a statement Tuesday that Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and China's Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi "expressed common opinions on the necessity of a convincing response from the Security Council" to North Korea's nuclear test and the importance of halting the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

But Lavrov and Yang, during a phone conversation on Monday, "underlined that resolving the problem is possible only on political-diplomatic tracks," the ministry said.

This includes reviving six-party talks aimed at dismantling North Korea's nuclear program "as the most important instrument of regulating the nuclear problem of the Korean peninsula, and taking away the justified anxiety of North Korea in the sphere of security," the ministry said.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg said Tuesday after talks in Tokyo with Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso that "there are a number of very creative ideas that we are sharing with partners" in considering measures to punish the North for the nuclear test.

A U.N. diplomat familiar with the talks said last week that members are discussing a variety of proposals to expand sanctions against North Korea and enforce existing sanctions imposed after Pyongyang's first nuclear test in 2006.

The proposals for expanded sanctions include widening the arms embargo to include light weapons as well as heavy weapons, freezing the assets of additional companies and individuals linked to North Korea's weapons programs, restricting flights to and from the country, and imposing restrictions on the North's financial and banking operations. The diplomat spoke on condition of anonymity because the discussions are closed.

A partial draft of the resolution, obtained last Friday, calls on U.N. members "immediately to enforce" the U.N. sanctions imposed in 2006, including ship searches for illegal weapons and a ban on luxury goods. It also calls for the immediate enforcement of an asset freeze on three North Korean companies ordered by the council after Pyongyang launched a rocket in April that many saw as a cover for testing its long-range missile technology.

The draft would also strongly condemn the nuclear test and reiterate the council's demand that North Korea abandon all nuclear weapons, return to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, allow U.N. nuclear inspections, and join in the early resumption of six-party talks.