South Africa also voted "no," while Qatar, Indonesia and Congo Republic abstained. Voting with Washington were Britain, which co-sponsored the draft, France, Belgium, Italy, Ghana, Peru, Panama and Slovakia.
Alejandro Wolff, the acting US ambassador, told the council on Friday: "The United States is deeply disappointed by the failure of the council to adopt this resolution.
"This resolution would have been a strong and urgently needed statement by the Security Council about the need for change in Burma, whose military regime arbitrarily arrests, tortures, rapes and executes its own people, wages war on minorities within its own borders, and builds itself new cities, while looking the other way as refugee flows increase, narcotics and human trafficking grow, and communicable diseases remain untreated."
Kyaw Tint Swe, Myanmar's UN ambassador, said cooperating with the UN was the cornerstone of Myanmar's foreign policy and "we are encouraged by today's Security Council decision".
The military has run Myanmar since 1962, ignoring a 1990 landslide election victory by the National League for Democracy party led by Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel laureate, who has been in prison or under house arrest since then. Thousands of her supporters have been jailed.
The US measure called for the release of Suu Kyi and all other political prisoners and for her party and all other groups to be able to operate freely.
No one denied abuses by Myanmar's junta, which has been condemned in the 192-member General Assembly. At issue was whether rights violations are a danger to peace and security in the region, the council's mandate.
Otherwise, human rights violations are an issue for the assembly, whose resolutions carry less weight.
No regional threat
Wang Guangya, China's UN ambassador, said Myanmar's neighbours did not consider it a threat to peace and security.
Wang said: "Similar problems exist in other countries as well and the council could arbitrarily consider the situation in all 192 UN member states as a threat to peace and security."
Indonesia, a regional neighbour of Myanmar, said the issue was not bilateral or one for Asia only but had international ramifications.
Rezlan Ishar Jenie, Indonesia's UN ambassador, said: "Myanmar must respond to the imperative of restoring democracy and human rights."
Still, Jenie said he had to abstain because the Security Council was "not the appropriate body" to address the issue.
Emyr Jones Parry, Britain's UN ambassador, told reporters he helped push the resolution because "I want tomorrow morning to be able to reassure myself that we did the right thing, the right thing by the people of Myanmar".