MacKay praises UN draft resolution on North Korea

U.S. diplomats are trying to drum up support for a United Nations resolution that would impose sanctions on North Korea for the Communist regime's claimed nuclear test.

Canada's foreign affairs minister said Thursday a United Nations draft resolution is a "progressive first step" towards convincing the Communist regime to return to six-party talks about its nuclear program.

Peter MacKay said the new proposal, for which U.S. diplomats are trying to drum up support, would help to gauge the intentions of North Korea. Pyongyang claimed on Monday to have tested a nuclear weapon.

The UN Security Council could vote Friday on the U.S.-drafted resolution, which calls for a travel ban but contains softerlanguage on cargo inspections and financial sanctions than thatincluded inan earlier draft.

According to a copy obtained by the Associated Press, the draft resolution would require countries to freeze all assets related to North Korea's weapons and missile programs and put a travel ban on people involved in North Korea's nuclear program.

In an effort to get China and Russia's support, the U.S. has changed its wording in a couple ofkey areas.

The new draft remains under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, which allows for measures to deal with threats to international peace and conflicts ranging from breaking diplomatic relations to imposing naval blockades and taking military action.

North Korea, meanwhile, threatened "strong countermeasures" against new Japanese sanctions.

Japan has already begun to take action against North Korea for the nuclear test it claimed on Monday to have carried out.

Tokyo is prohibiting North Korean ships from entering Japanese ports, has imposed a complete ban on North Korea imports, and with a few exceptions, won't allow North Korean nationals into Japan.

Song Il Ho, North Korea's ambassador in charge of diplomatic talks with Japan, told Kyodo News on Wednesday that Pyongyang is still trying to determine how relations between the two countries will change in light of the nuclear test.

Harper says Canada not directly threatened

In other developments, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said there is no hard evidence yet that North Korea has developed a missile that is capable of reaching North America.

He said Wednesday in Vancouver, however, he finds it alarming that the Communist country is claiming to have tested a nuclear weapon.

"But with all that said, we don't have any evidence today that North Korea's capacities threaten Canada," Harper said.

"Obviously, if North Korea eventually developed the capacity to fire missiles at North America, we would be in a different boat. But as alarmed as we are, North Korea is nowhere near that objective today."

With files from the Associated Press