UNITED NATIONS - The U.N. Security Council Friday unanimously approved expanded sanctions and a trade and arms embargo against North Korea over its May 25 nuclear test.

The sanctions resolution bans all weapons exports from North Korea and most arms imports into the communist state. It authorizes U.N. member states to inspect North Korean sea, air and land cargo, requiring them to seize and destroy any goods transported in violation of the sanctions.

Both China and Russia, which had been reluctant to support punitive measures against North Korea in the past, supported the U.S.-drafted resolution, which is now binding under international law.

U.S. envoy Rosemary DiCarlo told the 15-nation Security Council that the resolution created markedly stronger sanctions against Pyongyang to persuade it to abandon its atomic weapons ambitions.

China's U.N. ambassador, Zhang Yesui, said the resolution showed the firm opposition of the international community to North Korea's nuclear ambitions, but he urged countries to exercise caution when inspecting North Korean cargo.

Council diplomats said on condition of anonymity that it was not yet clear whether China, the closest its neighbour North Korea has to a major ally, was prepared to actively implement the new sanctions resolution. Beijing ignored an earlier round of sanctions against Pyongyang passed after North Korea's first nuclear test in October 2006.

(Reporting by Louis Charbonneau and Claudia Parsons; Editing by Patricia Zengerle)