Discussions among diplomats of the five permanent U.N. Security Council members plus Germany intensified Wednesday in New York, where one diplomat said that they are starting to negotiate on the substance of possible new sanctions against Iran for its suspected nuclear weapons program.
The meeting was the second in less than a week, and came only a day after world leaders met at a nuclear security summit in Washington.
Ambassadors from Britain, China, France, Russia, and the United States, plus Germany, met for more than three hours at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations. Following the closed-door meeting, French Ambassador Gérard Araud told reporters that the negotiations are intensifying. "I think it was a very constructive meeting. I think we have started to negotiate on the basis of the text. And I think that the six countries are onboard," he said.
China has close trade ties with Iran and it has been the most reluctant of the six nations to impose new sanctions against Tehran.
Following the meeting, Ambassador Li Baodong characterized the talks as "very constructive." "Today, we just had a very constructive consultation. And the six countries in our consultation have had a better understanding of each other's position. And we will continue this consultation," he said.
Diplomats are negotiating possible new sanctions aimed at curtailing Iran's ability to develop nuclear weapons, such as an arms embargo, financial measures, moves that target investments in Iran's energy sector and sanctions against the country's powerful Revolutionary Guard Corps.
Negotiations on the sanctions could take weeks.
The United States has drafted the text from which the group is working. French Ambassador Araud said the six powers are discussing the substance of that text and are moving forward. He and other diplomats said the group would meet again soon.
Once they have agreed to the language of a draft resolution, they will present it to the other 10 non-permanent members of the Security Council for their approval.
World powers believe that Iran is secretly trying to develop nuclear weapons, a charge it denies. But Tehran has not allayed global concerns. It has not accepted confidence-building measures and other proposals from the international community and it has not abided by several other Security Council resolutions demanding that it cease enriching uranium.