The U.N. Security Council's five permanent members are meeting daily in an effort to reach consensus on persuading Iran to give up its nuclear ambitions. The matter is likely to come to the full 15-member council later in the week.
Ambassadors of the so-called "Perm five" Council members - China, Russia, Britain, France and the United States - met behind closed doors early Monday morning, and more meetings are scheduled in the next 24 hours.
Diplomats were unusually tight-lipped about the session, which was held at the U.S. mission to the U.N. But sources close to the talks say the United States, Britain and France are pushing for swift approval of a Security Council statement urging Iran to enter talks on its uranium enrichment program or face possible sanctions.
China and Russia are said to object to portions of the text, including any mention of deadlines or threats of sanctions.
After Monday's session, U.S. Ambassador at the U.N. John Bolton suggested the matter would be quickly brought to the full council, whether Russia and China agree or not.
"It's a British-French draft that we've been considering, and I wouldn't be surprised if within a day or two the elements might be distributed to the full Council, and I think that's appropriate," he said. "We're trying within the Perm-five, but we're not going to rest there. If we can't reach agreement, we'll go to the larger Council."
Other Security Council diplomats confirmed that all 15 council ambassadors would meet Tuesday at an undisclosed location outside the U.N. building for an informal, first look at the British-French draft statement.
Britain's U.N. Ambassador, Emyr Jones-Parry, said the statement is aimed mainly at expressing support for the actions taken by the governing board of the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna.
"We will urge Iran to actually comply with what the Board has asked, and we'd like a report back on how Iran has responded to the request," he said. "That's what this is about. It's about full support for the agency. It's about the Council assuming its responsibilities to support the agency, and we would like to move this dossier forward as soon as we are able."
Diplomats and others who have seen the text say it calls on IAEA Director Mohamed ElBaradei to report on Iran's nuclear activities within 14 days, and to halt work on nuclear reactors that could be diverted for use in a weapons program.
The British ambassador said while Russia and China have disagreements with portions of the text, there is unanimity on the overall goal of the process.
"On the strategic goal, there is absolutely no disagreement among the P-five," he said. "We all know what our aim is, it is to avoid proliferation of nuclear weapons, it is to encourage iran to actually come into compliance with what the governing board has asked. That's what this discussion is all about."
Monday morning's Perm-five meeting was the third since the IAEA sent the Iran dossier to the Security Council last Wednesday.
Tehran has repeatedly denied that it is seeking nuclear weapons, and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad was quoted Monday as pledging that his country would press ahead with its nuclear program despite international concerns.
Also Monday, the country's vice president vowed that no power could prevent Iran from developing nuclear technology. In an interview with a Chilean newspaper, Vice President Fatemeh Javadi was quoted as saying "science and research are a right for all countries."