NEW YORK (Kyodo) Japanese and U.S. envoys working on the U.N. Security Council response to North Korea’s missile launch are exploring a watered-down resolution instead of seeking stricter enforcement of existing sanctions, diplomatic sources said Wednesday.

Rather than condemning the North’s suspected test-firing of a long-range ballistic missile, the proposed draft resolution would express only concern, the sources said.

The draft would also refrain from confirming that the missile launch was a violation of Security Council Resolution 1718, adopted in October 2006 after Pyongyang carried out a nuclear test, the sources said.

The latest move represents a significant climbdown from a draft resolution Japan and the United States outlined earlier this week, which is believed to call for stricter measures to implement sanctions under Resolution 1718.

The compromise is apparently in response to the deep divisions between Japan and China, which as North Korea’s closest ally has proposed a weaker press statement. Such a statement is nonbinding and read out only to the press by the Security Council president.

A resolution can be voted down by a veto from any of the five permanent members — Britain, China, France, Russia and the U.S.

Although Japan is hoping all countries eventually back a resolution, it technically could pass even with an abstention from a permanent member, such as China, providing a minimum of nine council members approve a vote.

While looking for a way to adopt a binding resolution, the U.S. is together with Britain and France looking at the possibility of issuing a nonbinding presidential statement, the sources said, noting Washington is apparently trying to avoid confrontation with China, which is partly financing President Barack Obama’s economic package through purchases of U.S. Treasury debt.

Russia is also leaning toward a presidential statement, which requires unanimous agreement by the 15 council members and is read out inside the chamber.

Konstantin Dolgov, Russia’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations, told reporters Wednesday that Russia stood alongside China in calling for a presidential statement, rather than a resolution at this point.

“This is the position of China,” he said. “We are very much in understanding of this position and we share this view.”

Meanwhile, Japanese Ambassador to the U.N. Yukio Takasu told reporters that Tokyo remains committed to a resolution because the launch, which impacted Japan the most, gave rise to serious security concerns.

Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Taro Aso reaffirmed Japan’s intention to seek a new Security Council resolution on North Korea.

State Secretary for Foreign Affairs Shintaro Ito was to head to New York on Thursday to lobby Japan’s position.

Takasu said Ito would be coming to New York to “impress upon (the UNSC) the seriousness of the situation and how strongly the Japanese people feel about it.”

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