Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will push for a United Nations Security Council resolution to impose sanctions on Iran when she meets Friday in London with representatives of other world powers.
The United States and the other members of the so-called P5+1 -- the permanent members of the Security Council (Russia, China, Great Britain and France) plus Germany -- have arrived at a preliminary agreement on an initial round of sanctions to be included in a resolution, according to European and senior U.S. State Department officials.
One of the major stumbling blocks has been getting Russian and Chinese support for sanctions, but sources tell ABC News that both have now signed on to an agreement on sanctions. A European diplomatic official, however, warned that specific details of a resolution still need to be ironed out, saying, "I wouldn't yet call it ready."
During the meetings, Rice and the other ministers will hear a report from the European Union's foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, who has headed negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program. Solana admitted this past week that his talks have not yielded any concessions from Iran.
Rice, fresh off a trip to the Middle East, which included a surprise trip today to Baghdad, will attempt to convince her counterparts that sanctions are the appropriate next step in dealing with Iran's nuclear program.
"The issue is to hear from Solana and to move ... on to sanctions," she told reporters aboard her plane en route to Baghdad. "We've done the Solana effort and now we'll have to move to sanctions."
U.S. and European diplomatic officials speculate that a draft of this resolution might circulate within the Security Council as early as next week, but timing and the final contents of any resolution will depend much on an agreement at the ministerial meetings Friday in London.
The Security Council gave Iran a deadline of Aug. 31 to respond to an offer by the P5+1 to verifiably suspend its nuclear enrichment program or face sanctions.
U.S. officials and Solana have recently said publicly that because Iran failed to meet the terms of that deadline, which were set out in Resolution 1696, the door is now open for economic and other sanctions.
"It is clear that we don't have a positive response from the Iranians to the offer that has been made to them. So as we've always said the next step then is to proceed with a sanctions resolution," State Department deputy spokesman Tom Casey said today.
The sanctions on Iran are designed to be both progressive -- that is, implemented in stages -- and reversible, in case Iran complies after sanctions have been applied.
In this first sanctions resolution, the sanctions are expected to target Iran's nuclear program and proliferation capabilities. It could also include a travel ban on senior Iranian officials involved with the program.
So far, the agreement is only on this first batch of sanctions, and the P5+1 have yet to come to an agreement on sequencing and content of subsequent harsher sanctions should Iran continue to defy the Security Council resolution's call for suspension of Iran's nuclear activities.