Military attacks on Iran's nuclear program could create a "totally destabilizing" situation in the region, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said on Sunday, saying France would instead harden sanctions.

"We can still strengthen them [sanctions] to put pressure on Iran and we are going to continue along this path because a military intervention could create a totally destabilizing situation in the region," Juppe told Europe 1 radio. "We must do everything to avoid the irreparable," he said.

Last week, President Nicolas Sarkozy criticized what he called Iran's "obsessional desire" to develop nuclear weapons and said France would not stand idly by if Israel were threatened.

The French envoy to the UN warned Iran in late September that it risks a military strike if it continues to develop its nuclear program. "If we don't succeed today to reach a negotiation with the Iranians, there is a strong risk of military action," AFP quoted Ambassador Gerard Araud as saying from New York.

The strike, he said, "would be a very complicated operation. It would have disastrous consequences in the region… all the Arab countries are extremely worried about what is happening."

Western powers suspect Tehran of trying to develop nuclear weapons and have imposed sanctions in an attempt to curb its program. Iran denies seeking nuclear weapons and says its atom program is for power generation.