New UN resolution on North Korea close

Key members of the UN Security Council have agreed a draft resolution on tougher sanctions against North Korea in response to North Korea's recent nuclear bomb test and weapons program.

The draft resolution will be discussed at a meeting of the full 15-nation Security Council, then it will be put to a vote on Friday.

The proposed sanctions aim to further curtail North Korea's financial dealings with the outside world, freeze company assets and expand an arms embargo.

It will also demand Pyongyang return to talks about its weapons program and halt further nuclear tests.

However, according to Russia’s UN envoy Vitaly Churkin, the draft resolution rules out the use of force. "The resolution excludes any use-of-force measures for solving the problems that have arisen," he said.

The official went on to say that the document left the door open to resuming negotiations and the possibility of revoking the sanctions.

He noted that a “political message” should be sent by the resolution, pointing out that the current situation contains “proliferation risks.”

Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has discussed North Korea during a meeting with his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Moscow.

“We concentrated on the issues that are particularly urgent today – disarmament, arms control, non-proliferation,” the Russian minister said. “It is enough to mention the recent nuclear test in North Korea, which essentially annulled the progress we have achieved in strengthening the Non-Proliferation Treaty and in decreasing tension in North East Asia. The UN Security Council will soon offer a collective response to the situation.”

Lavrov also called for the resumption of six-party talks on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

For more than two weeks Russia, the US, Britain, France, China, Japan, and South Korea have been working on a draft resolution to respond to the underground nuclear test that North Korea carried out on May 25.

Meanwhile, there have been growing tensions over reports that North Korea is planning to carry out a new long-range missile test.

Elsewhere, White House officials have announced that the United States could shoot down any North Korean missile if it was fired towards America.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the US is capable of protecting itself against any North Korean threat for a number of years.