According to diplomats privy to continuing talks, this is attributed to China, Russia, Libya and Vietnam voicing concern about further alienating and destabilising North Korea.

China, the North's closest ally, and Russia hold veto power as permanent members and could dilute any response.

Japan urges action

In depth


 Photo: N Korea's launch site
 Video: N Korea's arsenal
 North Korea: A state of war
 Outcry over N Korea rocket

Meanwhile, the Japanese government has vowed to "keep pushing" for UN action to punish North Korea for the rocket launch.

Japan is the most concerned of North Korea's neighbours because its islands lie within easy range of North Korean missiles.

North Korea fired its rocket over Japan on Sunday, claiming it launched a communications satellite into orbit.

But the US, South Korea, Japan and others suspect the launch was a guise for testing the North's long-range missile technology.

They contend it violates a UN security council resolution barring North Korea from ballistic missile activity.

Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, also commented on North Korea's rocket launch saying that the United States is "joined by many countries in denouncing the actions of North Korea, it was in our view a clear violation of Security Council Resolution 1718".

Clinton called the launch "a provocative act that has grave implications".

North Korean 'excitement'

N Korea's 'space programme'

North Korea says it launched its first satellite, Kwangmyongsong-1 (right), into orbit aboard a Taepodong 1 rocket in 1998

It says the satellite launch was successful, beaming a looped recording of the Song of General Kim Il Sung back to Earth

US space command said at the time it was unable to find any North Korean satellite in orbit

North Korea says it has now launched the Kwangmyongsong-2 satellite on top of what it has called an Unha-2 rocket

North Korean officials continue to praise what they view as the successful launch of the rocket.

Speaking on state television, Choi Jang Gun, the chief director of North Korea's science and technology committee, said Pyongyang had shown the world that when technology is made well and combined with courage, it can be successful.

Choi Bae Jin, the chief director of the North Korean national planning committee, also said: "We cannot hide our joy and excitement over this achievement."

Kim Jong-il, the country's leader, personally observed the launch, state media reported on Monday, expressing "great satisfaction" with the achievement.

Photos released by the Korean Central News Agency purportedly show Kim standing with scientists and technicians involved in the launch at the general satellite control and command centre.