The UN Security Council has agreed to hold new closed-door consultations today on a fourth sanctions resolution against Iran over its suspect nuclear program, with sponsors aiming for a vote later this week.
The 15 members met yesterday for nearly an hour after Brazil and Turkey asked for "a meeting on Iran at some point prior to adoption of sanctions on this issue," the Mexican presidency of the council said.
Diplomats said no consensus emerged during the closed-door session and US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice told reporters the council would hold fresh consultations on the sanctions draft early today.
The council's five council permanent members -- Britain, France, China, Russia and the United States -- are co-sponsoring the sanctions draft and believe they have the votes to secure passage.
"The sponsors are aiming for adoption on Wednesday," said one Western diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The co-sponsors are pressing ahead with their text without the backing of Brazil and Turkey, two non-permanent council members who insist that fresh sanctions would be counter-productive, as they say a deal they brokered opened up an opportunity for further diplomacy.
Lebanon has also indicated it cannot support the resolution for domestic political reasons.
Last month, Turkey and Brazil brokered a deal under which Iran agreed to ship 1,200 kilogrammes of its low-enriched uranium (LEU) to Turkey in return for high-enriched uranium fuel for the Tehran reactor that would be supplied later by Russia and France.
But the accord drew a cool reaction from world powers led by the United States.
"We expect to bring the matter before the council this week," State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said in Washington.
Western powers fear that Iran's atomic program masks a bid to build nuclear weapons. Tehran denies this, saying the program is aimed at peaceful energy generation, which it insists it has the right to pursue.