Nuclear deal close?
British Foreign Secretary Ready to Join Iran Talks

In the latest sign a nuclear deal is imminent, Britain’s Philip Hammond says he was ready to join the talks this weekend.

Elad Benari, Canada ,

Philip Hammond
Philip Hammond
Flash 90

In the latest sign a nuclear deal between world powers and Iran is imminent, Britain’s Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said Friday he was ready to join the talks this weekend, AFP reported.

Hammond, speaking to reporters on a visit to Washington, said the deal was close but that it was not clear how it would be presented or whether there would be a written accord.

"We're hopeful that we're going to be making that progress over the next 48 hours, and I'm ready to go whenever I need to go, over the weekend," he was quoted as having said.

Earlier, the foreign ministry in London said Hammond would head to the Lausanne talks over the weekend, but the minister said he would only fly to Switzerland if there was an immediate prospect of progress.

"I'm going back to London and I will go to Lausanne as soon as it's appropriate to be there," he said, explaining that the talks were in a highly technical phase.

Hammond noted that a previous round of talks held in Vienna last November failed, and said he was now wary of "going and sitting in a hotel room for two days."

"It's only an hour, an hour-and-a-half, flight away," he said, according to AFP. "I will jump on a plane and go to Lausanne as soon as we sense that we're getting to the point where we need to sit down."

On Thursday, a British diplomat said that the six major powers and Tehran had made "significant progress" in negotiations on Iran's nuclear program, but added that there are several key differences that must be resolved to clinch a preliminary deal by March 31.

Iran and the six world powers - known as the P5+1 - are hard at work trying to turn an interim deal into a permanent agreement. Iran committed in the interim deal to limit its uranium enrichment to five percent and is gradually winning access to $4.2 billion of its oil revenues frozen abroad and some other sanctions relief.

As to how the eventual deal might be presented, Hammond stressed on Friday it would be a political outline of an agreement that would be finalized in detail over the coming months.

He was not able to say whether there would be a written statement representing "an understanding of the shape of the deal" and signed by all parties, including Tehran.

"Conceptually what's envisaged is a statement of broad understanding, the political parameters," he explained.

"We envisage being able to deliver a narrative. Whether that is written down or not I don't think is the crucial issue, but it will be in headline form."

Asked whether the narrative would be delivered in a joint statement agreed between Iran and the P5+1 world powers, Hammond said, "We'll have to see how we handle that.

"The point, I think, is momentum. This will be a political statement, or perhaps political statements from the P5+1 and Iran," he added, according to AFP.

Officials with knowledge of the contents of the negotiations told The Associated Press on Thursday that the United States is considering letting Iran run hundreds of centrifuges at the fortified underground bunker in Fordow, in exchange for limits on centrifuge work and research and development at other sites.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)