Iran nuclear crisis: France wants 'stricter' sanctions

France is convinced Iran is developing nuclear weapons and should face "stricter sanctions", Foreign Minister Alain Juppe has said.

He urged EU countries to follow the US in freezing Iranian central bank assets and imposing an embargo on oil exports.

Iran has dismissed the threat of sanctions. On Tuesday, it denied that a record low of its currency was linked to US punitive measures.

It also denies Western charges that it is trying to develop nuclear weapons.

Tehran says its programme is peaceful - it needs nuclear technology to generate electricity to meet growing domestic demand.

In November, the US, Canada and the UK announced new sanctions against Iran in the wake of the report from the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), that said Iran had carried out tests related to "development of a nuclear device".

But Iran was not referred to the UN Security Council because Russia and China were opposed to the move.

January deadline

"Iran is pursuing the development of its nuclear arms, I have no doubt about it," Mr Juppe told French television I-Tele.

"The last report by the International Atomic Energy Agency is quite explicit on this point."

Mr Juppe said France wanted the sanctions against Iran toughened further.

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