France: Iran missile tests 'very bad signal'

AFP , Monday 2 Jan 2012

France says Iranian missile tests at Strait of Hormuz bad signal sent to the international community, stresses need to maintain freedom of navigation in gulf

France said on Monday that Iran's testing of missiles near the strategic Strait of Hormuz was regrettable and reminded Tehran of the need to keep the vital oil transit waterway open.

"We regret the very bad signal sent to the international community by the latest missile tests announced by Iran," foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said, reminding Tehran of the "freedom of navigation in straits and the need to maintain a favourable climate in respect to this freedom."

Iran on Monday tested missiles near the Strait of Hormuz, underlining its threats to close the waterway as the West prepares to impose more economic sanctions to punish Tehran for its controversial nuclear work.

The launch of two missiles took place on the final day of war games in waters east of the strait at the entrance to the Gulf.

The show of military muscle was designed to show Iran's ability to close the Strait of Hormuz -- through which 20 per cent of the world's oil flows -- if it chooses.

Valero said talks in the European Union on an embargo on Iranian oil imports "are progressing well". A meeting of EU foreign ministers at the end of this month will decide whether to implement the measure.

US President Barack Obama also upped the pressure at the weekend, signing into law new unilateral sanctions targeting Iran's central bank and financial sector.

"We consider that the measures adopted this weekend by the United States go in the right direction," Valero said.

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