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No new sanctions in next U.N. Iran resolution

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Six world powers have agreed on a draft resolution on Iran’s nuclear program but it included no new sanctions, in line with Russia’s insistence, senior U.S. and European officials said on Friday.

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband told reporters the six powers had agreed to submit the draft text to the 15-nation U.N. Security Council for discussions on Friday afternoon. A vote could come on Saturday.

According to a text seen by Reuters, the 10-line draft resolution would call on Iran to “fully comply, without delay” with previous council resolutions, which demand that it halt enriching uranium. It also urges Iran to meet the requirements of the International Atomic Energy Agency board of governors.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the resolution aimed, not to impose new sanctions against Tehran, but rather to show unity after disagreements with Russia over its invasion of Georgia.

“It’s also especially important that the Iranians recognize that the P5 plus 1 process is intact,” Rice told Reuters in an interview, referring to the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States -- and Germany, the powers seeking to persuade Iran to halt its suspected pursuit of a nuclear weapon.

The United States and Europeans had wanted a fourth round of sanctions on Iran, which refuses to halt nuclear enrichment work. China and especially Russia oppose further sanctions.

Miliband said the text “reaffirms existing resolutions that are on the U.N. books.” Although the draft resolution has no new penalties, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier told reporters that the text “does not rule them out either.”

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The meeting on Iran was originally scheduled for Thursday but it was postponed after Russia withdrew to protest U.S. criticism of its invasion of Georgia. Russian diplomats said Moscow was letting the West know it could not be sidelined on issues like Iran where it is a key player.

Separately, Rice told the Security Council that she wants it to take up Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s threats against Israel. Rice said his comments that the Jewish state “should be wiped from the face of the map, should be destroyed and should not exist” were unacceptable.

Tehran insists its nuclear program aims to produce electricity and refuses to halt its enrichment program. In a defiant speech to the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday, Ahmadinejad vowed to resist U.S. “bullying.”

Miliband said the U.N. nuclear watchdog had failed to get sufficient cooperation from Tehran in its investigation of allegations that Iran conducted research on an atomic weapon.

In June the six powers gave Iran a beefed-up offer of political and economic incentives, including nuclear reactors, in exchange for a suspension of its enrichment program. Tehran says enrichment is a sovereign right it will never renounce.

Russia’s U.N. ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, said this week that Moscow saw no need for a further round of sanctions now since it wants Iran to have time to study the offer.

Additional reporting by Hans-Edzard Busemann, writing by Louis Charbonneau; Editing by Bill Trott