The administration of US President George W. Bush is offering to narrow the scope of proposed UN sanctions designed to force Iran to stop enriching uranium, a State Department official said.
A Security Council resolution should aim at denying technology to Iran for its nuclear industry and its enrichment programs but not crimp Iran's oil and gas production, Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns said on Friday.
Work on a resolution has been bogged down for three weeks by disputes pitting Russia and China against the US and Europeans. That proposal is aimed at Tehran's nuclear and missile efforts but does not specifically omit its oil and gas industries, which constitute are major parts of Iran's economy.
Burns said the Security Council should not impose broad-scale economic sanctions in what could be the first of a series of resolutions. He urged Russia and China to find common ground with the US and the Europeans.
"It's time to get on with it," he told reporters.
It was unclear how far the omission of oil and gas sanctions would go to resolve the dispute at the UN. Neither side in the impasse has shown signs of easing its position, which could presage lengthy negotiations.
Iran rejects allegations it is trying to build nuclear weapons and says its nuclear programs are designed to generate energy for the Iranian people.
"No one is taking the position that there will not be sanctions," Burns said. "The only question is what is the framework of this first sanctions resolution and where do we go from here."
"I do believe we can work this out," he said.
Russia and China, which have strong commercial ties with Iran, have been pushing for more dialogue instead of punishment.
Still Burns said, "We have an agreement with Russia and China that we will pass a sanctions resolution."