UNITED NATIONS (AP) – Western powers reached agreement with North Korea’s key allies Wednesday on a proposal that would impose tough new sanctions on the reclusive communist nation’s weapons exports and financial dealings, and allow inspections of suspect cargo in ports and on the high seas.

The draft U.N. resolution, which must still be approved by the Security Council, is aimed at preventing North Korea from obtaining and exporting material and know-how to produce nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, and from getting the money to finance the program.

U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice presented the draft resolution to the 15-member council, calling it “a very strong, very credible” response to North Korea’s second nuclear test on May 25 in defiance of a Security Council resolution adopted after its first underground atomic blast in October 2006.

“This sanctions regime if passed by the Security Council will bite, and bite in a meaningful way,” she said. “We think that the message that the council will send should it adopt this resolution is that North Korea’s behavior is unacceptable, they must pay a price.”

The draft comes even as North Korea appears increasingly belligerent about possible sanctions. On Monday, Pyongyang’s main Rodong Sinmun newspaper reiterated that the country will consider any sanctions a declaration of war and will respond with “due corresponding self-defense measures,” and on Tuesday the country said it would use nuclear weapons in a “merciless offensive” if provoked.

The provision most likely to anger the North Koreans calls on countries to inspect suspect cargo heading to or from North Korea on land, at airports and ports – and to stop ships carrying suspect material if the country whose flag the vessel is flying gives approval. If the country refuses to give approval, it must direct the vessel “to an appropriate and convenient port for the required inspection by the local authorities.”

The draft does not, however, authorize the use of military force, a demand by North Korean allies, China and Russia, that was also in the 2006 resolution.

Agreement on the draft resolution came after two weeks of closed-door negotiations by ambassadors from the five permanent Security Council nations – the U.S., Britain and France, China and Russia – as well as the two countries most closely affected by the test, Japan and South Korea.

Turkey’s U.N. Ambassador Baki Ilkin, president of the Security Council this month, said the nine countries that were not part of the negotiations will send the draft to their governments and will meet again after they hear back.

With the five veto-wielding permanent members already on board, quick council approval is expected, though probably with some changes to the text.

Past sanctions imposed by the U.N., the U.S. and other countries have had little effect in dissuading North Korea from pursuing its nuclear ambitions.

Japan’s U.N. Ambassador Yukio Takasu said the international community has “a responsibility to make this sanctions regime very effective.”

The draft would have the Security Council condemn “in the strongest terms” the May 25 nuclear test “in violation and flagrant disregard” of the 2006 sanctions resolution.

It would also demand a halt to any further nuclear tests or missile launches and reiterate the council’s demand that the North abandon all nuclear weapons, return to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, allow U.N. nuclear inspections, and rejoin six-party talks aimed at dismantling its nuclear program.

Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said Moscow shares “the frustration and the concern” of all council members over North Korea’s defiance.

“We are clearly facing a situation which poses clear proliferation risks,” he said. “We are doing it with a very heavy heart … because having sanctions is not our choice. But some political message must be sent.”

The 2006 resolution imposed an arms embargo on heavy weapons, a ban on material that could be used in missiles or weapons of mass destruction and a ban on luxury goods favored by North Korea’s ruling elite. It also ordered an asset freeze and travel ban on companies and individuals involved in the country’s nuclear and weapons programs.

The new draft calls on the 192 U.N. member states to implement these measures and asks the council committee monitoring sanctions to designate additional companies and individuals within 30 days that could face an asset freeze and travel ban.

It would also expand the arms embargo, banning North Korea from exporting all weapons – which Rice said would eliminate a significant source of revenue for the country – and banning the import of all arms except light weapons.

The 2006 resolution called on countries to ensure compliance with the sanctions “including through inspection of cargo” to and from North Korea.

Rice explained that the new draft resolution spells out “an unprecedented, detailed” series of steps in which nations “are expected to inspect suspected contraband cargo” on land and the high seas, and then seize and dispose of any contraband.

In a measure designed to promote compliance with inspections, the draft resolution requires all countries not to provide fuel or other supplies to North Korean vessels if there are reasonable grounds to suspect they are carrying prohibited weapons or other items.

Russia’s Churkin said “the provisions on inspections are drafted in a way which emphasizes respect for international law.”

As for financial measures, the draft calls on U.N. member states to prevent financial institutions or individuals from providing financial services, funds or resources that could contribute to North Korea’s “nuclear-related, ballistic missile-related, or other weapons of mass destruction-related programs or activities.” It says this can be done by freezing the funds or assets.

It also calls on countries and international financial and credit institutions not to authorize new grants, financial aid, or concessional loans to North Korea except for humanitarian, development, and denuclearization programs. And it calls on member states not to grant export credits, guarantees, or insurance to companies or citizens involved in trade with North Korea that could contribute to its banned weapons programs.

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