China said Thursday it will continue to push for a diplomatic resolution to the Iranian nuclear standoff, rebuffing efforts by Western powers to introduce a new set of sanctions against Iran.

"We've been making diplomatic efforts and we believe they have not been exhausted, and we will continue to work with other parties to push for a settlement to this issue," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang.

The proposed sanctions would target Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guard and toughen existing measures against its shipping, banking and insurance sectors, well-informed UN diplomats said Wednesday.

The U.S., Britain and France support such new sanctions, and Russia - which is normally opposed - appears to be moving closer to that view. That leaves only permanent Security Council member China - which depends on Iran for much of its energy needs - opposed to new sanctions.

The Security Council's five permanent members have veto power, so China could block council sanctions, although it is more likely to abstain if the other four are in support.

Qin said China would continue to work toward the resumption of talks on the issue and make constructive efforts for a proper resolution of the Iranian nuclear issue through dialogue and negotiations.

Iran is already under three sets of Security Council sanctions meant to punish its refusal to freeze its uranium enrichment program, which can be re-engineered to produce highly enriched, weapons grade uranium instead of its present low-enriched output.

Tehran insists it is enriching only to produce fuel for an envisaged nuclear power network.