• European Union member states have agreed in principle to ban imports of Iranian crude oil to put pressure on Iran over its nuclear programme.

  • The move is expected to be announced formally at an EU Foreign Ministers' meeting at the end of January.

  • The United States, which recently imposed fresh sanctions on Iran, has welcomed the news.

  • Iran has dismissed the threat of new sanctions and denied Western claims that it is trying to develop a nuclear weapons programme.

  • Iran has also denied that a record low of its currency this week was linked to punitive U.S. measures against its banks.