UNITED NATIONS - The United States-led push for new U.N. Security Council sanctions against North Korea for launching a long-range missile is expected to be resisted by Russia and China as the 15-body began deliberations on the issue Sunday afternoon. Japan, a close ally of the United States, requested the emergency session of the council, the world body's power centre, soon after the firing of the rocket which Pyongyang said propelled a communications satellite into space. But US insists that the move signaled that North Korea is edging toward the capability to shoot a nuclear warhead on a longer-range missile. But most analysts said that behind the US harsh reaction were mainly Israel's concerns that the advance technology could become available to Iran, an arch enemy of the Jewish state. From the Czech capital Prague hours before he was due to give a major speech on nuclear proliferation, US President Barack Obama earlier Sunday described North Korea's rocket launch as "provocative". In New York, Japan's UN Ambassador Yukio Takasu, while requesting the council meeting, expressed the view that the launch was was a clear violation of a 2006 resolution. South Korean Foreign Minister Yu Myung-Hwan also called it a provocative act, saying it was in breach of Security Council Resolution 1718, which was passed after the North's 2006 missile and nuclear tests and bans it from conducting ballistic missile tests. Meanwhile UN chief Ban Ki-moon voiced regret that North Korea had spurned international appeals not to go ahead with its planned launch. "The secretary-general regrets that, against strong international appeal, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) went ahead with its planned launch," a UN statement said. "Given the volatility in the region, as well as a stalemate in interaction among the concerned parties, such a launch is not conducive to efforts to promote dialogue, regional peace and stability," it added. Ban urged Pyongyang "to comply with relevant Security Council resolutions, and all countries concerned to focus on ways to build confidence and restore dialogue, including the early resumption of the six-party talks" on North Korea's nuclear disarmament. US, Japanese and South Korean warships with missile tracking Aegis equipment were deployed to monitor the launch, which Pyongyang insists aimed at putting a satellite into orbit. China meanwhile urged restraint and voiced hope relevant parties would "remain calm." A Russian military official told Interfax news agency that Russia's air defence radars detected the launch of a North Korean rocket, apparently carrying a satellite. He said Russia's air defence radars followed the rocket until it disappeared from their range. Diplomats at UN headquarters say China and Russia, both veto-wielding members of the Security Council, were likely to block any bid by the United States and its Western allies to push for new sanctions on North Korea over the latest rocket launch. But a Western diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the council might take up a resolution or a non-binding statement that would reaffirm existing sanctions. Resolution 1718, adopted in October 2006 after the North's missile launches on July 5 and nuclear test on October 9 that year, demanded that Pyongyang refrain from a further nuclear test or another ballistic missile launch, and banned the supply of items related to the programmes and of other weapons. Security Council Resolution 1695 of July 2006 condemned the July 5 missile tests and banned the transfer of items which could be used to make missiles and weapons of mass destruction. Council diplomats have begun discussing ways to affirm existing sanctions on North Korea. China has watered down sanctions against North Korea before and will likely be reluctant to risk what leverage it has with the North by criticizing its neighbour. Beijing is wary of taking measures that would isolate North Korea further because it fears a collapse of the regime could lead to waves of refugees crossing the border into northeastern China. It also does not wish to see Korea unified under a government beholden to its rival the United States, having sent troops to fight on North Korea's behalf during the 1950-53 Korean War to prevent that from happening. China is further concerned that a public rebuke in the form of harsher sanctions could lead North Korea to freeze all contacts. After North Korea's nuclear test in 2006, China and Russia insisted that language expressly ruling out military action against North Korea be added to a UN resolution before they would agree to sanctions. Nevertheless, Sunday's launch poses a challenge to Beijing's efforts to keep the peace on the Korean peninsula by averting a major confrontation as well as the collapse of the Pyongyang government. China is North Korea's main source of economic aid and diplomatic support, but six-nation talks hosted by Beijing to end the North's nuclear programmes stalled late last year over its refusal to agree on a process to verify its past nuclear activities. Both Chinese President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao urged the North's premier during his visit to Beijing last month to return to the negotiations to no apparent effect. Beijing's attitude toward the rocket launch may ultimately hinge on whether North Korea is found to have placed an experimental "Kwangmyongsong-2" communications satellite into orbit as it says it has done. Regardless of the outcome, however, analysts say Beijing isn't likely to alter its view that past sanctions have had little effect apart from damaging bilateral relations and costing Beijing influence with the North. Whatever its feelings toward North Korea's actions or what is spoken in private Beijing has been extremely unwilling to criticize its neighbour in public.