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Iran: 'Keep Aircraft Carrier Out Of Gulf' Tehran Warns US, As France Calls For Fresh Sanctions

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Iran has warned the United States not to return an aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf after Tehran conducted 10 days of military exercises conducted by Tehran.

On Monday Iran said it had completed successful tests of surface-to-sea cruise missiles, as well as shorter range and surface-to-surface missiles.

It also conducted a series of military tests and exercises in the Strait of Hormuz, a key 'choke point' for oil tankers in the region through which 20% of the world's oil travels.

Following the exercises Major General Ataollah Salehi said that Iran "advises, recommends and warns" the US to keep the USS John C Stennis away from the Gulf, adding that "Iran is not used to repeating its warnings". The ship had left the region for Dubai during the military exercises.

Quoted by the Fars news agency, General Salehi said it would not make “any unreasonable” retaliatory action, but warned it was “ready to counter any threat”.

The US Navy has not commented on the warnings.

Meanwhile, Tehran has denied that US economic sanctions designed to counter its nuclear programme were not behind its currency falling to record lows.

On Saturday US President Barack Obama signed a bill designed to attack Iran's central bank when it comes into force in six months' time.

The Iranian rial has since lost 12% in value, and Reuters previously quoted officials as saying it had suspended trading.

The US has imposed the new sanctions along with the UK and Canada following a report in November by the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which stated that the country had carried out development tests related to nuclear weapons

Iran claims that its nuclear ambitions are peaceful, and says it is simply responding to a growing demand for electricity.

On Tuesday France also moved to criticise Iran's nuclear ambitions, saying that it wants tougher sanctions against the country to be imposed across Europe.

"Iran is pursuing the development of its nuclear arms, I have no doubt about it," French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe told French TV station I-Tele.

"The last report by the IAEA is quite explicit on this point."

Juppe said that President Nicolas Sarkozy had already proposed "the freezing of Iranian central bank assets, a tough measure, and the second an embargo on Iranian oil exports" and called on other European countries to impose sanctions before February.