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World News

Q+A-U.N. Security Council plans resolution on North Korea

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The U.N. Security Council on Monday unanimously condemned North Korea’s nuclear test and announced it would begin work on a resolution in response to what it said was a violation of international law.

Closed-door negotiations on a resolution will begin on Tuesday and can be expected to take at least several days before the 15-nation council has a draft ready to vote on.

WHAT IS A RESOLUTION?

A Security Council resolution is a decision by the council that is generally considered to be legally binding. In order to be approved, it must have nine or more votes in favour and no vetoes by the five permanent members -- the United States, Britain, China, France and Russia.

The council can also issue statements. Those are generally not considered to be legally binding, although some U.N. delegations have argued they can be binding.

WHAT WILL BE IN THE RESOLUTION?

Western powers like the United States, Britain and France, as well as Japan and other U.S. allies, are expected to push for new sanctions to be included in the resolution.

Russia and China are generally reluctant to approve sanctions, although they did agree to impose punitive measures against North Korea after its 2006 nuclear test in Security Council resolution 1718.

Western diplomats say Russia and China might be amenable to new sanctions but would prefer they not be too strong.

All council members agree that they should adopt a resolution on North Korea’s nuclear test. But the issue of whether or not to include sanctions and, if so, what kind of sanctions, is likely to be the major sticking point in negotiations on a draft resolution.

WHAT KINDS OF SANCTIONS COULD BE IMPOSED?

The council has already imposed limited financial sanctions and an arms embargo on Pyongyang and has banned the import and export by North Korea of nuclear and missile technology.

Further measures could include new financial sanctions targeting additional members of the North Korean government. More companies could be added to the U.N. blacklist of firms suspected of aiding Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs.

The trade embargo could also be expanded, although council members would be loath to take any steps that might make life worse for what many countries believe to be North Korea’s starving civilian population.

WHAT ABOUT A RESOLUTION WITHOUT NEW SANCTIONS?

China, the closest North Korea has to a major ally, and Russia might push for a resolution that condemns the nuclear test but imposes no new sanctions.

Such a resolution could limit itself to demanding that Pyongyang return to the stalled six-nation aid-for-disarmament talks. It could also threaten to impose further sanctions if North Korea does not return to the talks or detonates another atomic device. It might also reaffirm previous sanctions.

The countries in the six-party talks are North and South Korea, the United States, China, Russia and Japan.

Editing by Peter Cooney

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