* U.S. persuaded China to rebuke Pyongyang, deal tentative
* U.S. wanted resolution imposing new sanctions-envoys
UNITED NATIONS, Jan 18 (Reuters) - The United States and
China have struck a tentative deal on a draft U.N. Security
Council resolution condemning North Korea for its December
rocket launch, though Beijing has yet to give its final
approval, U.N. diplomats said on Friday.
The resolution would not impose new sanctions, but would
call for expanding existing U.N. sanctions measures against
Pyongyang, the envoys said on condition of anonymity.
A draft was expected to reach the 15-nation council as early
as later on Friday, with adoption possible next week, they said.
The deal, if China and the rest of the council accept it,
represents a compromise.
The United States had wanted to punish North Korea with a
U.N. Security Council resolution that imposed new sanctions
against Pyongyang, but Beijing rejected that option.
Beijing had wanted the council to merely issue a statement
calling for the council's North Korea sanctions committee to
expand the existing U.N. blacklists, diplomats said.
The tentative deal reached, they said, was that Washington
would forgo the idea of immediate new sanctions, while Beijing
would accept the idea of a resolution instead of a statement,
which makes the rebuke more forceful.
Assuming the North Korea sanctions committee agrees to
expand existing measures, the resolution will ultimately lead to
more stringent sanctions against Pyongyang.
"It might not be much but the Chinese move is significant,"
a council diplomat said. "The prospect of a (new) nuclear test
might have been a game changer (for China)."
After North Korea's April 2012 rocket launch, the council
passed a so-called "presidential statement" that condemned the
move and urged the North Korea sanctions committee to tighten
the existing U.N. sanctions regime.
The sanctions committee then blacklisted additional North
Korean firms and broadened a list of items Pyongyang was banned
Washington was determined not to use the same formula as
last year, which is why it insisted that the council adopt a
resolution, not a presidential statement as China had wanted.
China is the North's only major diplomatic ally, though it
agreed to U.N. sanctions against Pyongyang in the wake of North
Korea's 2006 and 2009 nuclear tests.
North Korea is already banned under Security Council
resolutions from developing nuclear and missile technology but
has been working steadily on its nuclear test site, possibly in
preparation for a third nuclear test, satellite images show.
December's successful long-range rocket launch, the first to
put a satellite in orbit, was a coup for North Korea's young
leader Kim Jong-un.
It raised tensions in East Asia at the same time as Japan
and South Korea elected new leaders. Washington wants them to
mend relations after a dispute over an island claimed by both
countries boiled over.