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France Says Iran Risks EU Sanctions Over Missile Tests

France has warned that Tehran could face European Union sanctions over the ballistic missile tests conducted by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) earlier this month.

Western governments have already said that if the missiles are confirmed as nuclear-capable, the tests would violate UN Security Council Resolution 2231 adopted in July.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said in March 13 that "if necessary, sanctions will be taken" against Iran.

Ayrault made the comments after a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and several European counterparts.

Kerry said Iran's missile tests are a breach of UN resolutions "because they are longer than the distance allowed for ballistic missiles and, because of that, they represent a potential threat to the countries in the region and beyond."

Iran says the missiles launch was part of a military exercise.

The missile tests by Iran are expected to be discussed by EU foreign ministers at a meeting on March 14.

Washington has also asked the UN Security Council to discuss the matter.

In January the United States imposed sanctions on 11 companies and individuals for supplying Iran's ballistic-missile program after a series of tests at the end of last year.

That move came a day after international sanctions related to Iran's nuclear program were lifted under a landmark deal Tehran and major world power reached last July.

As part the nuclear deal, a UN resolution that barred Iran from any work on ballistic missiles of carrying nuclear warheads was also lifted.

However, a new Resolution 2231 was adopted in July that "calls upon" Iran to refrain from such activity.

Iran maintains its missiles are not designed to carry nuclear weapons and says it will continue missile development.

Iran's Foreign Ministry said the tests do not violate Iran's nuclear deal with world powers or UN Security Council resolutions.

With a range of 2,000 kilometers, Iran's ballistic missiles would be capable of reaching Israel and U.S. military bases in the Middle East.

In another development on March 13, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on world powers that signed the nuclear deal with Iran to punish Iran for the missile tests.

With reporting by AP, AFP, Reuters, and the BBC
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