UN extends North Korea sanctions over rocket launch

North Korea's rocket lifts off on 12 December 2012
Image caption North Korea launched its three-stage rocket on 12 December 2012

The UN Security Council has unanimously approved a resolution condemning a rocket launch by North Korea and tightening sanctions, diplomats say.

The resolution will add new individuals and North Korea's space agency to lists of existing sanctions, they say.

It was the result of a compromise deal between the US and China, North Korea's closest ally.

The US, Japan and South Korea say the launch was a test of long-range missile technology banned by UN resolutions.

They have been calling for tough action against North Korea.

The three-stage rocket put a satellite into space in what was Pyongyang's first successful test of such technology.

The UN Security Council banned North Korea from missile tests after nuclear tests conducted in 2006 and 2009.

The BBC's Barbara Plett reports from the UN that the US had wanted to impose new sanctions to punish Pyongyang.

China, North Korea's only ally on the Council, had wanted simply a statement expanding the blacklist, but eventually agreed this could be done in the form of a resolution, which carries more legal weight, our correspondent adds.

'Steep price'

Diplomats said China's support for the resolution was a blow to North Korea.

China, which is North Korea's biggest trading partner, had consistently called for a cautious response.

Before the vote, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said that China had been participating "constructively" in discussions at the UN.

"We feel regret that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea [North Korea] went ahead with the launch amid widespread concerns by the international community," he said, according to state-run China Daily.

"At the same time we believe that any response by the United Nations Security Council should be prudent, moderate, and conducive to peace and stability in the Korean Peninsula, and should prevent the situation from escalating further."

Monday's resolution said the Security Council expressed its "determination to take significant action in the event of a further DPRK [North Korean] launch or nuclear test."

Susan Rice, the US ambassador to the UN, said North Korea would pay "an increasingly steep price" if it chose confrontation with the international community.