The French foreign minister is calling on Europe to agree to stricter sanctions on Iran by the end of January due to Iran's controversial nuclear program, the Associated Press reported.
Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said there is “no doubt” Iran is continuing with its plans to build nuclear weapons, even though the country still insists its nuclear program is intended for only peaceful purposes. Juppe made the statement during a televised interview on Tuesday, saying France wants Europe to agree on sanctions similar to those already imposed by the United States, including a freeze on the Iranian central bank’s assets and an embargo on Iran’s oil exports, the AP reported.
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In November, the US, Canada and the United Kingdom announced new sanctions against Iran after the United Nations agency, the International Atomic Energy Agency, released a report saying that Iran carried out tests related to “development of a nuclear device,” the BBC reported.
“Iran is pursuing the development of its nuclear arms, I have no doubt about it," Juppe said, the BBC reported. "The last report by the International Atomic Energy Agency is quite explicit on this point."
Juppe said French President Nicolas Sarkozy already proposed "the freezing of Iranian central bank assets, a tough measure, and the second an embargo on Iranian oil exports,” the BBC reported. They hope Europe will take a similar step by January 30.
Over the holiday weekend, President Barack Obama signed into law a defense authorization bill, which contained a provision imposing sanctions on Iran’s central bank, the Wall Street Journal reported. The controversial law was issued with a strongly worded statement by the president, with his signature, saying he supported the broader bill “despite having serious reservations with certain provisions” of it, the WSJ reported. He said in the statement he will treat the provisions as “nonbinding.”
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The sanctions penalize foreign financial institutions that do business with Iran’s central bank, Bank Markazi. The sanctions also state that anyone who chooses to do business with the bank will be blocked from the US economy.