Iran expects the 13-year-long dispute over its nuclear ambitions to finally come to an end this weekend, Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi said Wednesday.
While Western diplomats did not discount the possibility that the implementation of the nuclear deal between Tehran and six world powers could start then, they told dpa that no day had yet been fixed.
In Washington, Secretary of State John Kerry said implementation day, when sanctions relief will begin under the deal, would take place "very soon, likely within the next coming days somewhere."
"When that happens, we are convinced it will make us and our partners around the world more safe and secure," he said in remarks at the National Defence University.
An agreement was reached with the international community in July but the implementation of the deal, which would herald the lifting of economic sanctions against Iran, needs to be formalized.
Tehran is first waiting on a report from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which would allow the deal to come into effect, Araghchi told the IRIB television station.
The IAEA's task will be to confirm that Tehran has fulfilled its obligations to dismantle nuclear equipment and reduce its stock of fissile material, which could be used for nuclear weapons as well as civilian power plants.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif plans to hold a ceremony Saturday or Sunday with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini. Vienna and Geneva are possible venues.
Araghchi said Iran and the EU wanted the foreign ministers of the six negotiating countries - Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States - to also attend.
A Western diplomat told dpa that the possibility of such an event was being discussed, but added that a full gathering was unlikely because it would be difficult to get all of the foreign ministers to adjust their schedules at such short notice. The dispute over the country's nuclear programme began in 2003 with the international community sceptical that Iran only wanted to develop the technology for power generation, not to build a weapon.
Increasingly tough sanctions have been imposed since 2005 and a number of rounds of negotiations failed to make a breakthrough.
The turnaround came in 2013 when President Hassan Rowhani, a relative moderate, came to power. An agreement was finally reached which allowed Iran to have a civil nuclear programme if it agreed to inspections and could show it was not seeking a weapon.