UNITED NATIONS — More than a week after North Korea launched a rocket over northern Japan, the U.N. Security Council made it clear Monday that the action was an unacceptable violation of international law and agreed to toughen sanctions against the nation.
The council condemned the April 5 launch and said that by the end of the month it would expand sanctions established in 2006 in a resolution aimed at stopping North Korea from developing ballistic missiles and other weapons. The resolution was never fully enforced.
A Security Council committee has been asked to make sure the resolution is enforced by adding to a list of companies, banks and other organizations covered by the sanctions, as well as banned materials tied to North Korea's nuclear weapons program.
The day of the launch, which North Korea said was carried out to put a satellite in orbit, the 15-member council met but was unable to agree even on whether to say it was "concerned."
The United States and Japan pushed for a new resolution with all-out condemnation, while China and Russia, North Korea's strongest allies, wanted the international community to back off, fearing a strong denunciation would endanger the six-party talks aimed at ending the nation's nuclear program.
But after a week of negotiations, led by the United States and China, the council found a compromise — to agree to a statement from the president of the Security Council that removed ambiguity over whether North Korea should launch anything, even for a space program. A "presidential statement" is considered less forceful than a new resolution.