The UN Security Council has unanimously adopted a resolution that significantly expands existing sanctions against North Korea, in response to the country's recent nuclear test and rocket launch.

Wednesday's resolution was voted after being thoroughly negotiated by Washington and Beijing, the closest ally of the Pyongyang government.

US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power said the new sanctions on North Korea go further than any UN sanctions regime in two decades, and are aimed at cutting off funds for its nuclear and other banned weapons programmes.


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"Our collective security demands that we stop North Korea from continuing along this destructive and destabilising course," Power said.

"Yet, we've got to be honest, that while previous multilateral efforts, including the four previous sanctions resolutions adopted by this council, have undoubtedly made it more difficult for North Korea to advance its weapons programmes, the regime continues to plough ahead as it demonstrated the last two months.

"That is why the resolution we have just adopted is so much tougher than any prior North Korea resolution."

Power said the new sanctions on North Korea go further than any UN sanctions regime in two decades. [EPA]

Under the sanctions, all cargo going to and leaving the country must be inspected, while North Korean trade representatives in Syria, Iran and Vietnam are among 16 individuals added to a UN blacklist - along with 12 North Korean entities.

Previously, states only had to inspect North Korean cargo shipments if they had reasonable grounds to believe they contained illicit goods.

"Virtually, all of the DPRK's resources are channelled into its reckless and relentless pursuit of weapons of mass destruction," Power told the council after the vote, using the acronym for North Korea's official name.

North Korea has been under UN sanctions since 2006 because of its four nuclear tests and multiple rocket launches.

Al Jazeera's James Bays, reporting from the UN headquarters in New York, said the fifth sanctions resolution was trying to deal with some of the loopholes North Korea has used in the past.

"They've changed some of the names of the front companies; they've named new individuals; they are trying to find every way to crack down on North Korea," Bays said.

"All experts agree that these are the toughest, most detailed sanctions to date."

Bays added that the resolution included "some elements that are supposed to target the leadership of North Korea. On the last page of the resolution, there are sanctions against exporting luxury goods into the country," he said.

The list on luxury goods include luxury watches, aquatic recreational vehicles, snowmobiles worth more than $2,000, lead crystal items and recreational sports equipment.


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There is also an unprecedented ban on the transfer to North Korea of any item that could directly contribute to the operational capabilities of its armed forces, such as trucks that could be modified for military purposes.

The sanctions came in response to North Korea's recent nuclear test and February 7 rocket launch, which used banned ballistic missile technology, according to Washington and its allies. Pyongyang said it was a peaceful satellite launch.

The official North Korean news agency KCNA said on Monday the proposed sanctions were "a wanton infringement on [North Korea's] sovereignty and grave challenge to it".

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies