A military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities would drag the world into an "uncontrollable spiral," French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe was quoted by AFP as saying on Monday.

Juppe, speaking after having met with his European Union counterparts in Brussels, said that the EU would reinforce sanctions against the Islamic Republic by asking the European Investment Bank to freeze loans to Iran.

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European Union foreign ministers spoke out in favor of tougher sanctions against Iran after the meeting, but decided to wait till their next meeting on Dec 1., before taking further action.

The ministers also ruled out any military action for now, despite last week's conclusion by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that Tehran had worked on designing a nuclear bomb.

"The Council will continue to examine possible new and reinforced measures and revert to this issue at its next meeting, taking into account Iran's action," it said in a statement.

The United States and Israel have refused to rule out any option to stop Iran acquiring a nuclear arsenal. But the EU foreign ministers restricted themselves in the statement to a condemnation of Iran's expanding uranium enrichment program and expressions of concern over the IAEA's findings that Iran was developing military nuclear technology.

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Iranian threat

Arriving for the meeting, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Britain was not yet considering military action.

"We are not calling for, or advocating, military action," he said. "At the same time, we are saying that all options are on the table." He called for "peaceful, legitimate pressure" to be stepped up on Iran.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said: "sanctions are unavoidable and harsh sanctions are unavoidable too if Iran continues refusing to work with the IAEA..."

"Iran has the right to use civil nuclear power but also has the duty to refuse all means of nuclear weaponry and to make this clear before the international community," he said.

However, he said Germany would not consider military intervention. "We won't be part of a discussion about a military intervention ... such a discussion is counter-productive."

Dutch Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal, asked about possible military intervention: "I don't exclude anything, now is not the moment to say anything else."

Diplomats in Brussels say EU foreign ministers may be ready to approve new sanctions on Dec. 1.

Iran already faces a wide range of UN sanctions, as well as some imposed unilaterally by the United States and the EU.

New EU sanctions would be a significant part of Western efforts to ratchet up pressure on Tehran after the IAEA, the UN nuclear watchdog, produced intelligence suggesting that Iran is seeking nuclear weapons.

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