BAGHDAD, IRAQ -- Twin visits to Moscow by the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia and Iraq have failed to win a commitment from the Soviet leadership to move forward this month with a United Nations vote to impose an arms embargo on Iran, Iraqi officials said in recent interviews.

Soviet hesitation to support an embargo resolution complicates U.S. efforts to push for a vote in the 15-member Security Council, which is being chaired by the U.S. delegation this month. One European diplomat here said a U.S. effort to force a vote would be "very divisive" after member nations unanimously passed a resolution last summer calling for an end to the seven-year-old Iran-Iraq war.

Returning here after two days of talks with Soviet Premier Nikolai Ryzhkov, Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz told government officials and Arab diplomats that the Soviets are pressing for another round of shuttle diplomacy between Tehran and Baghdad by U.N. Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar in hopes of finding a diplomatic settlement to the war.

Iran last week raised hopes in some western and Arab capitals that a diplomatic settlement is still possible, announcing that it would be willing to delay a major offensive against Iraq this winter if the United Nations agrees to brand Iraq as the "aggressor" in the war.

The Iranian statement, issued by parliament speaker Hojatoleslam Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, is regarded by officials in Baghdad as another in a series of diplomatic ploys designed to give Iran more time to mobilize and rebuild its military forces.

"The Arab strategy is to push the Soviets to be on this or that side," said an Iraqi official.

Aziz was reported to have characterized the Soviet attitude as "positive" toward eventually imposing an arms embargo against Iran for failing to abide by Security Council Resolution 598, passed last July 20.

The resolution called for a cease-fire and withdrawal of both sides to their international borders, after which U.N. commissions would determine which side started the war and the amount of war reparations to be paid. Iran has insisted that the commission investigations occur before its forces withdraw from Iraqi territory. Iraq is generally regarded as having initiated the conflict.

Iraqi officials remain frustrated that all attempts to set a deadline for Iranian compliance have failed to win unanimous support among the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council during the seven months since the cease-fire resolution was passed.

"Nobody could get a full, clear Soviet commitment to move," a knowledgeable Iraqi official said.

The Aziz visit followed by one week a similar mission by Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Faisal, who was reported by diplomats here to have told the Soviet leadership that its continued delay in supporting a vote on an arms embargo would be at the expense of Soviet relations with the moderate Arab states.

In both visits, Soviet officials were said to have expressed strong skepticism that an arms embargo would have any enforcement "teeth" and blamed the presence of western naval fleets in the gulf for adding to tensions there.

{In the gulf Sunday, Iraqi warplanes raided Iran's main oil terminal at Kharg Island. An Iraqi military spokesman said a tanker was hit in the attack, Reuter reported.

{Earlier, Iranian gunboats peppered a Liberian flag tanker with bullets off the coast of the United Arab Emirates, igniting a small fire that was extinguished by the crew.}

The Soviet Union has made significant strides in forging new ties to the gulf Arab regimes. Saudi Arabia, whose conservative monarchy is deeply anticommunist, does not have diplomatic relations with Moscow. Faisal's mission, the second such high-level visit in a year, was intended to impress upon Soviet leaders that further diplomatic inroads in the region required taking a more active role in pressuring Iran to end the war.

"When Prince Saud talks, he can be even tougher than the Iraqis," one government official here said. "Saudi Arabia is a major target for the Soviets' diplomatic efforts."

Iraq, which depends on the Soviet Union for 70 percent of its military needs, apparently has embarked on a campaign in Iraq's government-controlled press to pressure the Soviets to take a stronger stand against Iran's stand.

The Soviet Union joined other Security Council members in December in a declaration that the Security Council was prepared to vote for an arms embargo, but Arab and western diplomats here say the U.N. effort lacks a sense of urgency.

Iraqi officials are frustrated that international attention, which was focused on the gulf war last summer and fall, has shifted to Israel's clashes with Palestinian demonstrators in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

But work on an embargo resolution has gone forward, western and Arab diplomats here said. The latest draft resolution was submitted in New York last week, and Iraqi officials are hopeful that the United States will force a vote during its tenure as council chairman. "Now there is a specific piece of paper which the Soviets have to address," said one Arab official here.

European diplomats, however, say they believe the Soviets will stall as long as possible to preserve their mutual relationship with the Arab world and Iran, with which the Soviet Union Union shares a 1,600-mile frontier.