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Biden Warns Iran on Nuclear Ambitions

U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden warned Iran it faced consequences if it continued to pursue its nuclear ambitions and reaffirmed Washington's commitment to a planned anti-missile system in Europe to counter Tehran's threat.

Speaking before the European Parliament in Brussels, Vice-President Joseph Biden delivered a clear message to Iran, which is suspected of trying to build a nuclear bomb.

"Tehran faces a stark choice - abide by international rules and rejoin the community of responsible nations, which we hope for, or face further consequences and increasing isolation," said Mr. Biden.

Biden's remarks were made at the start of a European visit that has included meetings with NATO's secretary general and top European Union officials. He meets with Belgian government leaders Friday before heading to Spain, which holds the rotating EU presidency.

The United States and European allies are pushing for tougher United Nations sanctions against Iran to prod Tehran to give up its nuclear program. Iran claims its nuclear program is purely for peaceful purposes. In an interview with the New York Times this week, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad warned that sanctions might irreparably harm US-Iranian relations.

But in Brussels, Biden outlined what he saw as the threat of doing nothing.

"Wouldn't it be ironic, as the Iron Curtain fell and the threats of mutual assured destruction diminished among the superpowers, a new arms race would emerge in some of the most unstable parts of the world?" he said.

Biden told European lawmakers that the United States was determined to deploy a planned anti-missile system in Europe to counter Iran's nuclear program and ensure the security of its allies.

Turning to another key issue, Biden also pushed European lawmakers to resume a bank data sharing scheme aimed to reduce threats of terrorist attacks. The European Parliament suspended the exchange system earlier this year, concerned it violated the privacy rights laws.

Biden said he was convinced that it was possible to use the data sharing system and also guarantee citizens' privacy. He said it was critical to reestablish the system as soon as possible, to thwart potential terrorist attacks.