The European Union prepared Friday to lift economic sanctions against Iran, EU diplomats said, amid expectations that a settlement of the the 13-year-long dispute over Tehran's nuclear ambitions was imminent.
In July, Iran reached a deal with six world powers promising to significantly curb its nuclear activities in return for an end to a raft of restrictive measures imposed by the United States and the EU that have seriously hampered the country's economy.
The agreement aims to restrict Iran's ability to build a nuclear weapon, an aim Tehran has always denied.
The United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China were awaiting confirmation from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that Iran had fulfilled its side of the deal by scaling down its nuclear activities.
The IAEA could likely issue this report Saturday, which would be the signal for EU, US and UN sanctions to be revoked without delay, as foreseen by the July agreement, several diplomats told dpa.
Among other things, the sanctions have blocked oil and gas exports from Iran and have effectivly cut it off from the international banking system.
In Brussels, the legal text triggering the lifting of sanctions was ready by Friday morning, EU diplomats said on condition of anonymity. It will take effect as soon as it is published in the bloc's official journal, once the Iran deal is implemented.
To ensure a speedy adoption, 27 of the EU's 28 member states signed the document Friday, leaving the Netherlands to complete the process, once the go-ahead is given. The country currently holds the EU's rotating presidency.
Diplomats said foreign ministers from Iran and some of the six powers could meet on the weekend to mark the end of the nuclear dispute in a ceremony. The exact place or time had not been set as of Friday evening.