But China and Russia said they favor a weaker council statement without any threat of sanctions, positions that will make it very difficult for Japan and its key allies, the United States and Britain, to get tough measures.
Ambassadors from the 15 nations on the Security Council held an emergency meeting on a response to North Korea, which defied international appeals and conducted a series of missile launches. No draft resolution was introduced, but it was expected to be circulated later in the day when an initial discussion of council experts was scheduled.
After an Oval Office meeting with Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili Wednesday, President Bush reiterated the U.S. desire to approach the problem through multilateral, not one-on-one talks with the reclusive communist nation.
"The North Korean government can join the community of nations and prove its lot by acting in concert with those of us who believe that she shouldn't project nuclear weapons and with those of us who believe that there is a positive way forward for the North Korean government and her people," Mr. Bush said. "This is a choice they make."
U.S. Ambassador John Bolton said the council must send a "strong and unanimous signal" to the North that its actions were unacceptable. He said the council would proceed in a "calm and deliberate fashion," with experts starting discussions on a draft.
After the meeting, he said that "no member defended what the North Koreans have done."
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Wednesday the outrage heard around the world after North Korea's series of missile tests was a message to Pyongyang to "change its behavior.''
Asked about the Bush administration's position during a session with reporters, Rice said the revulsion expressed in many parts of the world and at the United Nations ``simply demonstrates that it is now not a matter of the United States and North Korea.''
The United States still believes six-party talks with North Korea offer the best opportunity for resolving the nuclear impasse, she said, adding that "the international community does have at its disposal a number of tools to make it more difficult for the North Koreans to engage in this kind of brinkmanship."
Japan's Deputy U.N. Ambassador Shinichi Kitaoka said his country already in range of North Korean missiles, is aiming at adoption of a resolution.
"Sanctions are probably included in our first proposal," he said.
The resolution is expected to call for action under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, which is militarily enforceable, several U.N. diplomats said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the draft has not yet been circulated.
Before the meeting, top U.S. and Japanese officials held talks on their next steps.
"We hope we have a strong and unanimous signal from the council that this kind of behavior is unacceptable," Bolton said.
British Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry gave London's strong backing.
"It's a provocative action," he said. "We condemn it. We very much hope that North Korea will come back to a moratorium, back to the six-power talks, and we will be supporting a resolution put down by Japan and the United States."
Wang expressed concern at the missile tests, but left far more ambiguity about how much council action would be acceptable to China.
"Certainly I think this is not the first time the Security Council takes action on this particular issue, because we had a precedence in 1998. So if all council members feel that some appropriate action is needed by the council, then we will see," he said.
In September 1998, following North Korea's launch of a satellite that the State Department initially believed was a missile test, the council approved only a press statement, which does not even become part of its official record.
It urged Pyongyang not to launch another satellite or other object without warning, and called on neighboring countries to refrain from taking retaliatory action.
On Wednesday, Wang stressed the importance of constructive actions to maintain peace.
Asked what the council could do to promote peace, he replied: "I think that in 1998 similar circumstances that the Security Council issued some sort of comments or statements."
"The next step is that the U.S. and Japan will get the toughest resolution they can at the U.N., demanding that North Korea stop the launches and return to the six-party talks," said CBS News foreign affairs analyst Pamela Falk.
North Korea fired seven missiles early Wednesday. All apparently fell harmlessly into the Sea of Japan. About 35 seconds after the launch, officials say the long-range missile either failed outright or was aborted by plan, reports CBS News correspondent Wyatt Andrews. It did not reach deep space and posed no danger to Japan or the United States.
"The headline should read that the North Korea launch is a failure. This is an incredibly immature regime in the north. That's the part that frightens me about them. They so miscalculate the world's reaction," Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., told CBS News' The Early Show.
The seventh test came after a North Korean foreign ministry official had defended North Korea's missile tests as a matter of national sovereignty, reports a Japanese TV station aired in South Korea.
North Korea's "strong war deterrent" has kept the country at peace, the North's state-run broadcaster said Wednesday. An announcer on the Korean Central Broadcasting Station also said that North Korea was prepared to cope with any provocation by the United States.
North Korea's U.N. Ambassador Pak Gil Yon refused to talk to reporters when he arrived at his country's U.N. mission, shielding himself with a large black umbrella against the rain and the media barrage.