Canada has joined the United States and Britain in slapping new sanctions on Iran, as a way of pressuring Tehran to halt its pursuit of nuclear weapons.

Government House Leader Peter Van Loan announced the measures Monday during question period in the House of Commons.

Van Loan said among other measures, Canada will "block virtually all transactions with Iran, including those with the Central Bank.

"The regime in Iran poses a significant threat to regional and global peace," Van Loan went on. "We will do what it takes to isolate the regime and to minimize the risk that it poses."

A statement from Canada's Foreign Affairs Department said the sanctions also include expanding the list of items that cannot be exported to Iran to include all goods used in the petrochemical, oil and gas industry.

As well, the government is expanding the list of individuals Canadians can no longer conduct business with.

"Canadians with relatives living in Iran will still be able to send funds to family members, provided those relatives are not listed individuals," the department's statement read.

The new measures expand on sanctions Canada imposed on Iran in July 2010, which included:

  • prohibiting the export of arms and related materials, as well as items used in the refining of oil and gas.
  • banning new investment in the Iranian oil and gas sector.

Earlier Monday, Britain announced that it would be cutting ties with Iranian banks.

In Britain, the new sanctions came into full effect Monday afternoon, forcing all U.K. financial and credit institutions to "cease business relationships and transactions with all banks incorporated in Iran, including all subsidiaries and branches of such banks, wherever located, and the Central Bank of Iran."

Moments after Van Loan made his announcement, France issued a plea to its allies to consider imposing a ban on the purchase of Iranian oil.

In a statement, French President Nicolas Sarkozy asked Canada, the U.S. and Britain, as well as Japan and the European Union, to impose "unprecedented" sanctions against Iran, including freezing the assets of Iran's Central Bank.

On Monday evening, the U.S. was the last to announce its sanctions against Iran via a brief news conference by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.

The pair announced that the U.S. will impose both financial and energy sanctions against Iran, including designating the Republic "a jurisdiction of primary money laundering concern" under the Patriot Act.

Geithner warned American and international banks against doing business with Iran.

"If you are a financial institution and you engage in any transaction involving Iran's Central Bank or any other Iranian bank operating inside or outside Iran, you are at risk of supporting Iran's illicit activities: its pursuit of nuclear weapons, its support for terrorism, and its efforts to deceive responsible financial institutions and evade sanctions," Geithner said.

"Any and every financial transaction with Iran poses grave risk of supporting those activities. Financial institutions around the world should think hard about the risks of doing business with Iran."

The U.S. sanctions also crack down on business deals that could help Iran "develop petroleum resources" or help "facilitate the maintenance or expansion of its domestic production of petrochemical products," according to a Treasury Department statement.

The U.S. also added to its list of Iranian individuals and companies that Americans cannot do business with.

The sanctions come less than two weeks after the UN nuclear agency reported that Iran has been conducting experiments "specific" to the development of nuclear weapons.

Iran rejected the report's conclusions, claiming that its nuclear program is being conducted only for legitimate energy and research purposes.

With files from The Associated Press and The Canadian Press