• France has urged its European partners to follow the US lead and impose an embargo on Iranian oil exports and freeze Iranian central bank assets, as tension with Tehran escalates.

  • French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said it was time to toughen sanctions – along the lines President Nicolas Sarkozy had proposed in late November. "France ... wants sanctions toughened and the president (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,

  • President Barack Obama signed new sanctions against Iran into law.

  • If enforced strictly, the sanctions could make it nearly impossible for most refiners to buy crude from Iran, the world's fourth biggest producer.

  • The United Nations Security Council has already imposed four rounds of global sanctions on Iran over its refusal to halt sensitive nuclear activities.

  • Talks between Iran and six world powers – the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany – are in stalemate.