Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Monday welcomed the EU's decision earlier in the day to step up sanctions against Iran, calling the moves a "step in the right direction."

Speaking at a Likud faction meeting, Netanyahu said that while it was too early to tell what the effect of the sanctions would be, "strong, quick pressure" on Iran was needed.

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The EU's foreign ministers meeting in Brussels decided to clamp a phased embargo on Iranian oil, and to freeze the assets of the Iranian central bank.

Netanyahu has been calling for "crippling" sanctions against Iran, including an embargo of Iranian oil, for months.

He said that Iran, to this day, is "continuing to build nuclear weapons without hindrance."

Foreign ministers from the 27-state EU, which as a bloc is Iran's second-biggest customer for crude after China, agreed to an immediate ban on all new contracts to import, purchase or transport Iranian crude oil and petroleum products. However, EU countries with existing contracts to buy oil and petroleum products can honor them up to July 1.

EU officials said they also agreed to freeze the assets of Iran's central bank and ban trade in gold and other precious metals with the bank and state bodies.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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