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Punish Iran, France urges eurozone

Jan 03 2012 11:23 Reuters

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Paris - France wants its European partners to agree by end-January on sanctions on Iran similar to those envisaged by the United States, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said on Tuesday.

"France... wants sanctions toughened and the president (Nicolas Sarkozy) has made two concrete proposals on that front - the first being the freezing of Iranian central bank assets, a tough measure, and the second an embargo on Iranian oil exports," Juppe told i>tele, a French news TV channel.

Washington is already in the process of imposing such sanctions, he said. "We want the Europeans to take a similar step by January 30 to show our determination," he said.

Iran, which denies Western accusations that it is trying to build atomic bombs, said on Monday it has test-fired two long-range missiles, flexing its military muscle in the face of mounting Western pressure over its nuclear programme.

It made the announcement at the climax of 10 days of naval exercises in the Gulf, during which Tehran warned it could shut the Strait of Hormuz - through which 40% of the world's traded oil is shipped - if sanctions were imposed on its crude exports.

EU foreign ministers are due to meet on January 30.

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