Jeffrey LewisGibbs Might Want Iran Statement Back

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, in the midst of a perfectly acceptable statement of Administration policy, cast doubt on Iran’s ability to enrich uranium:

MR. GIBBS: Well, look, I think Iran has made a series of statements that are far more political than they are — they’re based on politics, not on physics. Okay? The Iranian nuclear program has undertaken — has undergone a series of problems throughout the year. Quite frankly, what Ahmadinejad says — he says many things and many of them turn out to be untrue. We do not believe they have the capability to enrich to the degree to which they now say they are enriching. [Emphasis mine.]

Although I think most of this is true, Gibbs is going to want that last sentence back.

As should be clear from the IAEA document (GOV/INF/2010/2) I posted a few days ago, Iran seems quite deliberately moving to re-feed some of its current stock of LEU into a single cascade configured to produce 19.75 percent enriched uranium.


  1. John Field (History)

    I saw this in the news and worried about it too.

    In particular, I wondered where something like this came from. Was it
    a) a simple misconception by the press secretary
    b) pushed down from senior leadership who don’t believe
    c) pushed up from the intelligence community

    I guess I find myself scrambling to hope for a) because either b) or c) have such serious implications.

  2. nick (History)

    A simple solution for the WH staff is to read this website. On the other hand, it is probably a bit too techie for some folks, so my recommendation is for the IC to provide an executive summary for the likes of Gibbs so we don’t lose credibility in the eyes of world press. BTW, is Gibbs going to retract his statement when the Agency’s report is out in less than a month?

  3. Nick (History)

    Interesting interview with Salehi of AEOI

  4. patrick disney (History)

    I agree, Jeffrey, that Gibbs would want a mulligan on this one. But it also just might lend some credibility to the rumors of Western sabotage in Iran’s centrifuge program. Gibbs’ statement might have been rooted in his knowing something the rest of us don’t…

  5. PC (History)

    Gibbs likely misspoke and meant Iran wasn’t capable of enriching to 80%, as Ahmadinejad claimed. Kouchner came out the day after and something roughly similar, though specifically mentioning 80%:

    PARIS — French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner on Friday said France does not believe Iran’s claim that it is capable of enriching uranium to near weapons-grade levels. The “Americans don’t believe, not any more than us, that Iran is currently capable of enriching uranium to 80 percent,” Kouchner told Europe 1 radio.