updated 12/10/2006 2:12:36 PM ET 2006-12-10T19:12:36

The U.S. and its closest Western allies may soon call a vote on U.N. Security Council sanctions against Iran, even at the risk that Russia and China may abstain or veto the measures, officials said Sunday.

“They’re talking about a vote as soon as possible,” a U.S. official said of plans by the Americans, French and British. He and other diplomats and representatives of Western governments spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to divulge Western strategies on Iran. The officials gave no specific date.

The decision to risk a Russian and Chinese veto would reflect recognition by the five permanent Security Council members that they cannot agree on a common approach to dealing with concerns that Iran might be seeking to develop nuclear arms.

That would mean a serious setback to months of efforts by six world powers — the five permanent members plus Germany — to act in concert in getting Iran to freeze its uranium enrichment activities either, through enticements or the threat of punitive U.N. action.

In a fresh bid to win Russian and Chinese support, France and Britain circulated a revised U.N. resolution Friday proposing narrower sanctions.

The new draft still would ban the supply of materials and technology that could contribute to Iran’s nuclear and missile programs. But it spells out in much greater detail exactly what items are prohibited. Russia and China had complained that the proposed sanctions in the original draft were too broad.

But the new draft keeps a travel ban and asset freeze on companies, individuals and organizations involved in Iran’s nuclear and missile programs, which Russia opposes.

Britain, France and to a lesser extent Germany — which have led negotiations trying to rein in Iran’s nuclear program — have been at odds with Russia and China for weeks over the scope of the sanctions. The United States has generally supported the Europeans, though it initially wanted a tougher text.

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