The US, following crunch talks in London, geared up for a week of tough negotiations with other world powers over a draft UN resolution to impose sanctions against Iran for its nuclear program.
Senior US official Nicholas Burns said the five permanent UN Security Council members -- the US, Russia, China, Britain, and France -- plus Germany would start drafting next week a sanctions resolution.
However, he conceded that the tough part would be deciding the extent of punitive measures following the talks here that involved US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her five counterparts. Burns was also present.
British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett, speaking on behalf of the six following the meeting she chaired in London, said on Friday that the issue of sanctions was now back on the front burner.
"We're deeply disappointed that ... Iran is not prepared to suspend its enrichment-related and reprocessing activities as required by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) board and made mandatory in Security Council resolution 1696," Beckett said.
"Accordingly we will now consult on measures under Article 41 of chapter 7 of the UN charter as envisaged in that resolution," she said.
Article 41 allows the Security Council to impose diplomatic and economic sanctions on member nations to enforce compliance with its resolutions.
Burns, the US under secretary of state and pointman on Iran, said that work on a new resolution would probably start on Tuesday or Wednesday with a video conference involving his five counterparts.
The discussions would be pursued immediately afterward among the ambassadors at the UN of the six powers, he added.
"I am quite confident that we are now heading towards a sanctions resolution," Burns told BBC radio yesterday. "There will be tough negotiations ahead to define the specific nature of those sanctions. This is always a complex business."