Washington (CNN) - The Obama administration on Thursday dismissed claims by Iran's president that the Islamic republic has completed its first batch of 20 percent-enriched uranium and will soon triple production.
Uranium enriched to 20 percent can set off a nuclear reaction, scientists say, and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said the country is capable of enriching uranium up to 80 percent, but won't.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters Thursday that, "We do not believe they have the capability to enrich to the degree they say they are enriching."
However, the West has long been alarmed over what it believes is Iran's intention to build nuclear weapons. Tehran insists it is not building nuclear weaponry, and wants to use the technology for civilian purposes, such as supplying medical isotopes for cancer patients.
"For a long time they said you can't have this or that. You have to shut down this facility or that," Ahmadinejad told a crowd gathered at Tehran's Azadi, or Freedom, Square on Thursday to celebrate the 31st anniversary of the Islamic Revolution.
"You should basically throw away all of our facilities but again, our nation stood firm, our dear leadership stood firm and with the grace of the 12th Imam of the Shias, our nation today was victorious in the end and the Iranian nation became a nuclear nation."
Meanwhile, a soon-to-be released U.S. assessment of Iran's nuclear program is expected to conclude the government has resumed limited work on a nuclear weapon, according to a U.S. official.
Such a conclusion in the new National Intelligence Assessment would revise a controversial assessment released in 2007, which stated Iran had stopped its weaponization program in 2003. Many Western intelligence services disagreed with the U.S. conclusion at the time.