(CNN) - Does Iran have the know-how to build a nuclear weapon? Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wouldn't say on Sunday, while Defense Secretary Robert Gates declared the answer was "no."
Appearing with Gates in a pre-recorded interview on the NBC program "Meet the Press," Clinton defended the Obama Administration policy of seeking a unified international response to Iran's nuclear ambitions, including stronger United Nations sanctions.
Republicans criticize the policy as too weak, citing Iran's continuing snub of international regulations governing nuclear energy and nuclear weapons programs.
Clinton said President Barack Obama's decision to break with his predecessor's policies and seek negotiations with Iran has exposed the Tehran government's intransigence.
Now, with the U.N. Security Council permanent members negotiating tougher sanctions, "the Iranians have been beating down the doors of every country in the world to try to avoid" a new sanctions resolution, Clinton said.
However, when asked if Iran had the capability now to develop a nuclear weapon, Clinton avoided a direct answer, saying it was unclear.
Gates had no hesitation, declaring immediately that "it's our judgment here they are not nuclear capable."
"We're doing everything we can to try and keep Iran from developing nuclear weapons," Gates said, adding that there "probably" would be another Security Council resolution with tougher sanctions on Iran.
He called such a resolution important on its own and as a legal platform for others such as the European Union to take steps.
"At the end of the day, Iran has to decide that not having nuclear weapons is a better defense strategy than having them," Gates said.