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(photo credit: AP)
The UN Security Council voted unanimously on Saturday to impose punishing sanctions on North Korea for its claimed nuclear test, declaring that its action posed "a clear threat to international peace and security."
The vote came after the United States, Britain and France overcame last-minute differences with Russia and China during what Russia's UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin called "tense negotiations."
The resolution demands North Korea eliminate all its nuclear weapons but expressly rules out military action against the country, a demand by the Russians and Chinese. But US Ambassador John Bolton warned Pyongyang that if it continues pursuing its nuclear weapons program, the United States would return to the council and seek further measures.
The resolution bans the import or export of material and equipment that could be used to make nuclear weapons or ballistic missiles. It orders all countries to freeze the assets and ban travel for anyone engaged in supporting North Korea's weapons programs.
To meet Russian and Chinese concerns, the Americans eliminated a complete ban on the sale of conventional weapons. Instead, the resolution limits the embargo to major hardware such as tanks, warships, combat aircraft and missiles.
The resolution calls on all countries to inspect cargo leaving and arriving in North Korea to prevent any illegal trafficking in weapons of mass destruction or ballistic missiles. The final draft was softened from language saying the council "decides" - which is a stronger authorization.
But China's UN Ambassador Wang Guangya said after the vote that this provision allowing the boarding of ships to inspect cargo was still unacceptable to Beijing.
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