The US has formally requested a UN Security Council vote on Monday on tough new sanctions against North Korea despite resistance from China and Russia, as Pyongyang's state media calls for a nuclear arms buildup.
Washington has presented a draft UN resolution calling for an oil embargo on North Korea, an assets freeze on Kim Jong-Un, a ban on textiles and an end to payments of North Korean guest workers.
Diplomatic sources said Russia and China opposed the measures as a whole, except for the ban on textiles, during a meeting Friday of experts from the 15 Security Council members.
‘This evening, the United States informed the UN Security Council that it intends to call a meeting to vote on a draft resolution to establish additional sanctions on North Korea on Monday, September 11,’ a statement from the US mission to the UN read.
The statement declined to say what text would be voted on -- the original draft Washington first presented Wednesday, an amended text or another version.
In North Korea, which was marking the nation's founding anniversary Saturday, local media issued fresh calls for a nuclear arms buildup, in defiance of the mounting international sanctions.
‘The defence sector, in step with the party's Byungjin policy (of developing the economy and nuclear weapons at the same time) must make cutting-edge Juche weapons in greater quantities,’ the Rodong Sinmun said in an editorial, referring to the national philosophy of ‘Juche’ or self-reliance.
North Korea conducted its fifth nuclear test on September 9 last year, and then carried out a sixth a week ago, saying it was a hydrogen bomb that could be fitted onto a missile -- prompting global condemnation and calls for further sanctions.
In July, it tested two intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) that appeared to bring much of the mainland US into range.
The mouthpiece of the North's ruling party called for more ‘miracle-like events’ such as the two ICBM tests to deter the United States which it said was bent ‘decapitating’ leader Kim Jong-Un.
In another commentary, Rodong Sinmun said the US would continue receiving ‘gift packages in different shapes and sizes’ as long as it sticks to what it said was a hostile policy against the North.
Kim himself has called the ICBM tests ‘gift packages’ that the North was delivering to the ‘US bastards’.
- Deal on the horizon? -
One month after a ban on coal, iron and shellfish imports from North Korea, diplomatic sources said council members are seeking new measures to punish Pyongyang for its sixth and largest nuclear test on September 3.
The diplomats expressed optimism for the US-backed measure, despite Russia and China's reticence.
‘I don't really see a veto at this point, and I think we will reach agreement,’ because all members have shown a ‘willingness to negotiate,’ an expert on the matter said on condition of anonymity.
A ban on oil and oil products is the ‘toughest point,’ a source familiar with the discussions said.
‘The Russians and the Chinese are categorically opposed.’
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said it is too early to talk about a vote at the Security Council on new North Korea sanctions, insisting any pressure should be balanced against restarting talks.
‘Along with pressure on the North Korean regime to induce it to abandon provocations in the implementation of its nuclear and missile programs, it is necessary to emphasize and increase the priority of efforts to resume the political process,’ Lavrov said.
Russia is also opposed to sending back to their country North Korean expatriates who are an important source of revenue for the Pyongyang regime, sources said.
The United States wants tough sanctions to be imposed to maximize pressure on Pyongyang to come to the table and negotiate an end to its nuclear and missile tests.
The proposed raft of sanctions would be the toughest-ever imposed on North Korea.
Britain has given early backing to the measure.