UNITED NATIONS -- The U.N. Security Council was set to hold closed consultations on North Korea and non-proliferation Tuesday after U.N. diplomats said the United States and China reached agreement on a new draft sanctions resolution to punish the country for its latest nuclear test.
The diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity because no official announcement has been made, said the United States was expected to circulate a draft resolution to the full council at the 11 a.m. (1600 GMT) meeting. Council members are then expected to send the draft to their capitals for review.
Hours after North Korea carried out its third atomic blast on Feb. 12, all 15 council members approved a press statement condemning Pyongyang's nuclear test and pledging further action.
The swift and unanimous response from the U.N.'s most powerful body set the stage for a fourth round of sanctions against Pyongyang.
For the last three weeks, the United States, a close ally of South Korea and Japan, has been negotiating the text of a new resolution with China, North Korea's closest ally.
Lawmakers in Washington this week are also pushing for tougher U.S. financial restrictions on North Korea. Targeted U.S. financial sanctions have been tried before and have had a significant impact but have upset China.
Russian U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, whose country holds the Security Council presidency this month, told a news conference Monday that a resolution on North Korea might be approved in March though the text had not yet been circulated.
A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman in Beijing refused to give any details about the deal at her daily media briefing, but indicated China was concerned about Pyongyang's behavior.
"We have said here many times that China supports the U.N. Security Council in reacting moderately and explicitly objects to North Korea's nuclear test," spokeswoman Hua Chunying said.
In Seoul, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said Tuesday that "considerable progress" has been made in the Security Council on how to punish North Korea for its latest nuclear test. However, spokesman Cho Tai-young told reporters he couldn't disclose any details of the draft resolution because no final agreement has been reached.
Last month's statement from the Security Council called the underground test in February a "grave violation" of three U.N. resolutions that ban North Korea from conducting nuclear or missile tests.
North Korea's three nuclear tests - in 2006, 2009 and 2013 - occurred after Pyongyang was condemned by the United Nations for rocket launches.