UPDATE 1-New UN sanctions to take aim at North Korean diplomats-U.S.

Tue Mar 5, 2013 4:59pm GMT

(Adds quotes, background)

UNITED NATIONS, March 5 (Reuters) - A draft U.N. Security Council sanctions resolution that Washington and Beijing have agreed on targets illicit activities by North Korean diplomats and Pyongyang's banking relationships, U.S. envoy to the United Nations Susan Rice said on Tuesday.

"For the first time ever, this resolution targets the illicit activities of North Korean diplomatic personnel, North Korean banking relationships, (and) illicit transfers of bulk cash," Rice said after a closed-door meeting of the 15-nation council.

"North Korea will be subject to some of the toughest sanctions imposed by the United Nations," she told reporters. "The breadth and scope of these sanctions is exceptional and demonstrates the strength of the international community's commitment to denuclearization" of the Korean peninsula.

Chinese Ambassador Li Baodong told Reuters the council was aiming to vote on the resolution on Thursday. The draft sanctions resolution is a response to North Korea's third nuclear test last month.

"We support action taken by the council, but we think that action should be proportionate, should be balanced and focused on bringing down the tension and focusing on the diplomatic track," Li said.

"A strong signal must be sent out that a nuclear test is against the will of the international community," he added.

North Korea's two previous nuclear tests, in 2006 and 2009, prompted the Security Council to impose sanctions that included a ban on the import of nuclear and missile technology, an arms embargo and a ban on luxury goods imports. (Reporting By Louis Charbonneau and Michelle Nichols; Editing by Doina Chiacu)