The UN Security Council has failed to adopt a resolution condemning North Korea''s launch of what it said was a rocket carrying a satellite due to calls for caution by Russia and China.

The 15-member Security Council met for an emergency meeting late on Sunday at Japan''s request, but strong opposition from Russia and China prevented the adoption of even a preliminary statement of condemnation.

North Korea launched a multistage rocket it said was carrying a communications satellite at 11:30 a.m. (02:30 a.m. GMT) on Sunday, defying pressure from the United States, Japan and South Korea and other countries, which suspect the launch was a cover for the test of the communist regime''s Taepodong-2 long-range missile.

North Korea claimed the rocket, which was launched over Japan, had successfully delivered a communications satellite into orbit, but the U.S. and South Korean militaries said all three stages fell into the ocean and "no object entered orbit."

The United States, Britain, France and Japan drafted a resolution condemning North Korea, which was supported by six more Security Council members, and opposed by Russia, China, Vietnam, Libya and Uganda.

Washington and its allies argued for sanctions against Pyongyang, saying that the launch violated Security Council Resolution 1718, which was passed after North Korea''s 2006 nuclear test, but Russia and China called for restraint on the grounds that the resolution does not prohibit the launch of satellites under its space program.

Moscow and Beijing expressed concern that any action against Pyongyang may increase tensions and force the secretive communist regime to withdraw from the six-party talks on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

The six-nation talks, involving North Korea, South Korea, Russia, Japan, China and the United States, were launched in 2003 after Pyongyang withdrew from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

According to UN diplomatic sources, the Security Council members will meet on Monday to continue discussions over the appropriate response to the rocket launch.