UNITED NATIONS -- The Security Council on Tuesday unanimously condemned North Korea for launching a rocket last month, with Pyongyang's main ally, China, taking an uncommon step by joining the criticism.
The resolution ratcheted up existing sanctions on North Korea after it used ballistic missile technology to launch a multistage rocket, which carried a 200-pound surveillance satellite into orbit on Dec. 12.
The United States and China said they had worked closely on drafting the resolution, with Security Council diplomats saying they wanted to get it passed before South Korea takes over the rotating presidency of the Security Council in February.
Despite China's rejection of proposals by the U.S. to add new sanctions, the Obama administration sought to characterize the vote as a tough response.
"This resolution demonstrates to North Korea that there are unanimous and significant consequences for its flagrant violation of its obligations under previous resolutions," said U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice.
The measure said the council "deplores the violations" of previous resolutions, which barred North Korea from undertaking new nuclear or ballistic missile tests. The resolution added four organizations, including the North Korean space agency, the Korean Committee for Space Technology, and six individuals to an existing blacklist. It also threatened more measures for any new launchings.
China's ambassador to the U.N., Li Baodong, emphasized that the resolution stressed the need for negotiations to resume over ending North Korea's nuclear weapons program; known as the six-party talks, they include both Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the U.S.
"We believe that the situation on the Korean Peninsula is at a crossroads," Mr. Li said. "There is an opportunity for all stakeholders on the Korean Peninsula to start the diplomatic track and to avoid the escalation of tension."
North Korea reacted swiftly and angrily to the resolution, threatening to accelerate its military advances, including nuclear weapons, and reject any effort to resume the six-party talks.
"We will take measures to boost and strengthen our defensive military power including nuclear deterrence," its Foreign Ministry said in a statement carried by the Korean Central News Agency.
The measures included in the resolution will most likely have little day-to-day effect, experts said, but the 15-0 vote was significant because it included China, a longtime economic benefactor and protector of North Korea.
Tuesday's resolution serves to warn Pyongyang that Beijing's patience is not infinite, and that a third nuclear test could even provoke Chinese anger, said William Tobey, who was the Bush administration's senior official for nuclear nonproliferation and is now at Harvard's Belfer Center.
But only a threat of economic action by China might have a real effect, he noted. "Chinese willingness to withhold these benefits would be the only lever with much power over Pyongyang," Mr. Tobey said.