EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, who headed unsuccessful international attempts to urge Iran to abandon sensitive nuclear work, told the European Parliament sanctions were needed to show others they could not emulate North Korea.
''The Security Council has to act,'' he said. ''Otherwise other countries which are looking at what would be the response of the Security Council will take the conclusion that the international community doesn't take seriously an act of this nature.'' The five veto-holding members of the UN Security Council -- the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia -- met yesterday to discuss sanctions proposed by the United States and Japan after North Korea announced the test on Monday.
Diplomats hope a resolution can be adopted by Friday.
Solana said the most necessary sanctions were those to prevent proliferation of nuclear technology by North Korea. But sanctions should not be directed against the North Korean people. ''They have suffered already a lot,'' he said.
EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner told parliament the EU had been an important donor to North Korea, providing 345 million euros of assistance since 1995.
She said the world needed to act against Pyongyang, but added: ''I would like to maintain the humanitarian assistance that we have been giving to these people...They should not be jeopardised and punished even more by the terrible regime.'' Solana praised the ''constructive'' approach taken by China, which is North Korea's closest ally but nevertheless has called for punitive steps against Pyongyang.
He said the nuclear crisis showed the need to bring up to date the global Non-Proliferation Treaty of 1968. ''This regime should be adapted to the realities of today,'' he said.
A US draft resolution for UN sanctions on North Korea includes a total arms embargo, a freeze on any transfer or development of weapons of mass destruction and a ban on luxury goods.
Japan announced new sanctions against North Korea today, which included barring all North Korean ships from Japanese ports and banning imports.