N. Korea facing tougher sanctions

U.S.-China resolution to UN aims to rein in nuclear program

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UNITED NATIONS — A U.S.-China draft resolution aimed at reining in North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile program would impose some of the strongest sanctions ever ordered by the United Nations, a move certain to infuriate the regime and inflame tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

The proposed resolution put forward by the United States and China — North Korea's closest ally — followed Pyongyang's third nuclear test on Feb. 12. It reflected the U.N. Security Council's growing anger over the country's defiance of three previous rounds of sanctions aimed at halting all nuclear and missile tests.

Pyongyang threatened to cancel the 1953 cease-fire that ended the Korean War in response to the looming fourth round of sanctions. North Korea insists its nuclear program is a response to American hostility that dates back to the Korean War, which ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty, leaving the Korean Peninsula still technically in a state of war.

"North Korea will be subject to some of the toughest sanctions imposed by the United Nations," Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. said. "The breadth and scope of these sanctions is exceptional and demonstrates the strength of the international community's commitment to denuclearization and the demand that North Korea comply with its international obligations."

Rice and China's U.N. Ambassador Li Baodong, who negotiated the text behind closed doors over the last three weeks, predicted speedy approval of the resolution.

"The vote will be Thursday — that's the target," Li said. Rice said the council hoped for "unanimous adoption."

The draft resolution would make it significantly harder for North Korea to move around the funds it needs to carry out its illicit programs.