UNITED NATIONS - The five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council reached a deal Friday on a resolution that would give Iran until the end of August to suspend uranium enrichment or face the threat of economic and diplomatic sanctions.
The draft was formally circulated to the full 15-member council late in the day and will likely be adopted next week.
Because of Russian and Chinese demands, the text is weaker than earlier drafts, which would have made the threat of sanctions immediate. The draft now essentially requires the council to hold further discussions before it considers sanctions.
"There (are) no sanctions introduced on Iran in the draft resolution which we are finalizing," Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said.
Churkin stressed that work on the resolution was not finished, raising the possibility the introduction of the draft could be postponed.
The resolution, drafted by Britain, France and Germany with U.S. backing, is a followup to a July 12 agreement — by the foreign ministers of those four countries, plus Russia and China — to refer Tehran to the Security Council for not responding to incentives to suspend enrichment.
The ministers asked that council members adopt a resolution making Iran's suspension of enrichment activities mandatory. Tehran said last week it would reply Aug. 22 to the Western incentive package, but the council decided to go ahead with a resolution and not wait for Iran's response.
Iran on Friday called again for international negotiations on its nuclear ambitions and said it was considering the incentives. Western nations have dismissed the idea of such talks without a halt to Iran's uranium enrichment.
Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, speaking to reporters in Malaysia, said Tehran considers the package as a "positive step" toward a diplomatic solution.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Friday Moscow wants a swift, positive response from Iran on the package, Russian news agencies said.
"We are counting on the Iranian leadership to finish studying (the incentives) and give a positive answer as soon as possible," Interfax, ITAR-Tass and RIA-Novosti quoted Lavrov as saying on a plane en route to Dubai from Malaysia where he attended an Asian security forum.
The U.S. and some of its allies accuse Iran of seeking to produce highly enriched uranium and plutonium for nuclear weapons. Tehran maintains its nuclear program is purely peaceful and aimed at generating electricity.