The UN Security Council will start discussing a resolution next week that would impose sanctions on Iran for refusing to suspend uranium enrichment, Britain's UN ambassador said Thursday.
The council's decision to take up a sanctions resolution follows lengthy negotiations between European and Iranian negotiators that failed to convince Tehran to suspend its enrichment program during negotiations on its nuclear program.
"I expect the Iranian dossier to re-emerge in New York in the course of next week, Britain's UN Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry said.
Britain "will be discussing with its partners and with members of the council the basis for action by the council to adopt measures under Article 41 against Iran," he said.
Article 41 of the UN Charter authorizes the Security Council to impose nonmilitary sanctions such as completely or partially severing diplomatic and economic relations, transportation and communications links.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad warned Wednesday that sanctions will not stop Iran from enriching uranium after European foreign policy chief Javier Solana conceded that "endless hours" of talks with top Iranian negotiator Ali Larijani had made little progress and suggested the dispute could wind up at the UN soon.
The talks had been seen as a last-ditch attempt to avoid a full-blown confrontation between Iran and the Security Council after Tehran ignored an Aug. 31 deadline to suspend enrichment - a key step toward making nuclear weapons - or face punishment.
"The time of negotiations of course is not infinite, but we'll try to do the utmost," Solana said Thursday after talks in Rome with Italian Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alema. "I think that even if we fail now we should keep the doors open for dialogue with Iran."
Senior U.N. diplomats told The Associated Press on Tuesday that Iran's refusal to freeze uranium enrichment had sabotaged the talks, opening the way for the Security Council to start considering sanctions next week. The diplomats spoke on condition of anonymity because Solana has not formally declared the talks dead.
The UN Security Council could meet as early as Monday to start work on a resolution imposing the first of a series of sanctions meant to make Iran cooperate, one of the diplomats said.
The US and Britain favor immediate punitive measures. Russia and China - both major commercial partners of Iran _ are reluctant to agree to immediate punitive measures. France also has expressed reluctance.
French Foreign Ministry spokesman Jean-Baptiste Mattei said Thursday that sanctions to should be "progressive, proportionate and reversible" but he did not give details on what form sanctions might take.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Moscow remains opposed to sanctions.
"I think that until all diplomatic possibilities have been exhausted, sanctions would be extreme," he said after meeting with his Polish counterpart, Anna Fotyga, in Warsaw.
Lavrov said he and his Polish counterpart discussed a meeting Friday among the six major powers in London to talk about the next step in the Iran crisis.
But US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the foreign ministers may not be able to arrange the face-to-face meeting, which had been tentatively set for Friday or Saturday.
"We will see. It's not very easy to arrange, it turns out," Rice said aboard her plane during a visit to Iraq. "We may be able to do it instead by a phone call."
Lower-level diplomats from the six world powers conferred Thursday. The foreign ministers are likely to confirm that the European-Iranian talks are at a standstill and issue a statement referring the issue to the Security Council and stating the principles they agree on, said a senior Security Council diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity because talks are still taking place.
The diplomat said the key Western council members - the United States, Britain and France _ favor imposing an embargo on sales of nuclear or missile technology to Tehran as a first step, to be followed by other curbs, including travel bans on Iranian officials and the freezing of their assets.
Oil-rich Iran says it needs enrichment to produce fuel for electricity-generating nuclear reactors.
Enrichment can also create fissile material for atomic weapons, and the United States and other nations have accused Tehran of seeking to develop an atomic bomb - an allegation Iran has denied.