Key European countries have said they plan to circulate a revised UN resolution that would soften sanctions on Iran for refusing to suspend uranium enrichment after a closed-door meeting appeared to narrow differences with Russia.
France, Britain and Germany will circulate the new text to Russia, China and the United States on Thursday afternoon and then to the 10 non-permanent members of the UN Security Council, France's UN Ambassador Jean-Marc de La Sabliere said.
"I think we are making progress," Germany's UN Ambassador Thomas Matussek said after an hour-long meeting of ambassadors from the six countries. Germany is not a council member, but it has been a key party in European Union negotiations with Iran, so it participates in the six-nation talks.
The latest draft that has been made public would order all countries to ban the supply of specified materials and technology that could contribute to Iran's nuclear and missile programs. It would also impose a travel ban and asset freeze on key companies and individuals in the country's nuclear and missile programs named on a UN List.
Russia and China remain at odds with the US and key European countries, however, over the travel ban and the list.
Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told reporters in Moscow the proposed sanctions were too broad and included wording that would block legitimate economic ties with Iran.
He said a "quick agreement" was possible if the United States and its European partners return to the original understanding that sanctions should not be used as punishment against Iran and that the Security Council should not try to usurp the role of the International Atomic Energy Agency.