U.N. Security Council hits North Korea with more sanctions

UNITED NATIONS -- In response to North Korea's third nuclear test, the U.N. Security Council voted on Thursday to tighten financial restrictions on Pyongyang and crack down on its attempts to ship and receive banned cargo in breach of U.N. sanctions.

The U.S.-drafted resolution, approved unanimously by the 15-nation council, was the product of three weeks of negotiations between the United States and China after North Korea's Feb. 12 test.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, a former South Korean foreign minister, said the resolution "sent an unequivocal message to (North Korea) that the international community will not tolerate its pursuit of nuclear weapons."

The resolution specifies some luxury items North Korea's elite is not allowed to import, such as yachts, racing cars, luxury automobiles and certain types of jewelry. This is intended to close a loophole that previously allowed countries to decide for themselves what constitutes a luxury good.

"These sanctions will bite and bite hard," said U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice.

The export of luxury goods to North Korea has been prohibited since 2006, though diplomats and analysts say the enforcement of U.N. sanctions has been uneven.

The resolution, which council diplomats say is intended to bring the North Korea sanctions regime more in line with tough U.N. measures in place against Iran, had the council "expressing the gravest concern at the nuclear test conducted by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea)."

But the success of the new measures, council diplomats say, will depend to a large extent on the willingness of North Korea's ally China to enforce them.

Pyongyang was hit with U.N. sanctions for its 2006 and 2009 nuclear tests, measures that were subsequently tightened and expanded after several rocket launches. In addition to the luxury goods ban, there is an arms embargo on North Korea, and it is forbidden from trading in nuclear and missile technology.