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France convinced Iran developing nuclear weapons

media French Minister of Foreign Affairs, Alain Juppé

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said on Tuesday that he was convinced that Iran was developing nuclear weapons and called for the European Union to impose tougher sanctions on Tehran.

"Iran is pursuing the development of its nuclear arms, I have no doubt about it," he told French television station i-Tele. "The last report by the International Atomic Energy Agency is quite explicit on this point."

"This is why France, without closing off the path of negotiation and dialogue with Iran, wants stricter sanctions," he added.

He said French President Nicolas Sarkozy has proposed a freezing of assets of Iran's central bank and an embargo on exports of Iranian oil, a move also being considered by the European Union.

"The American Congress has backed this idea and President Obama has just signed it into law and we hope that the Europeans, by January 30 will take equivalent measures to show our determination," Juppe said.

Obama on Saturday signed into law tough new sanctions targeting Iran's central bank and financial sector.

Tensions have risen in recent days after Iran, which insists its nuclear programme is purely for peaceful purposes, test-fired a series of missiles near the key Gulf oil supply route of the Strait of Hormuz.

The European Union meanwhile said on Tuesday that Iran must respond to an EU letter before nuclear talks can resume, and dismissed a call by Tehran for the bloc to set a new date for negotiations.



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