The United States and China have agreed on a draft resolution that would expand U.N. Security Council sanctions against North Korea over its latest nuclear test and hope to put it to a vote in the coming days, council diplomats said on Wednesday.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, two council diplomats said Beijing and Washington reached a deal on the draft, which could go to the full 15-member council soon. The two veto powers had been negotiating on a draft resolution for the past seven weeks following Pyongyang's fourth nuclear test on Jan. 6.
"It's a substantive, long, full draft ... which I hope will be adopted in the coming days," a senior council diplomat said. "There were a significant number of blockage points between the two countries ... There is an agreement between those two countries."
The draft resolution is expected to call for the blacklisting of a number of individuals and entities, diplomats said. They were reluctant to provide further details.
North Korea's Ministry of Atomic Energy Industry and its National Aerospace Development Agency or 'NADA', the body responsible for February's rocket launch, will be amongst the sanctioned entities, South Korea's Yonhap news reported.
The secretive General Reconnaissance Bureau, already sanctioned by the United States for its suspected role in the 2014 cyber attack on Sony Pictures, was also included in the blacklist, Yonhap said.
The council is scheduled to discuss the U.N. North Korea sanctions regime on Thursday at 3 p.m. ET (20:00 GMT), the U.N. press office said.
China and the United States have had different views on how strong the response should be to North Korea since Pyongyang's nuclear test last month with Washington urging harsh punitive measures and Beijing emphasizing dialogue and milder U.N. steps that are confined to non-proliferation.
Western diplomats told Reuters that restricting North Korean access to international ports was among the measures Washington was pushing Beijing to accept.
Washington also wanted to tighten restrictions on North Korean banks' access to the international financial system, the diplomats said.
North Korea has been under U.N. sanctions since 2006 because of its multiple nuclear tests and rocket launches. In addition to a U.N. arms embargo, Pyongyang is banned from importing and exporting nuclear and missile technology and is not allowed to import luxury goods.
China and the United States signaled on Tuesday that they were near agreement on a draft sanctions resolution on North Korea.
(Additional reporting by James Pearson; Editing by G Crosse, Alistair Bell and Michael Perry)