Vintage Robert Gates here, as reported by Mark Thompson in Time :
Indeed, Secretary Gates, in Afghanistan this week, told reporters that the U.S. intelligence community has "more confidence than ever before" that Iran had a nuclear-weapons development program, one that Iran continues to deny it ever possessed. He urged the international community "to join the United States in bringing pressure to bear on the Iranian government" to keep its nuclear-weapons efforts dead. This, he said, will help "ensure that what apparently was a suspension in 2003 becomes a policy of the Iranian government and that they agree to the requirements of the international community in terms of their enrichment program." Iran, he said, had merely suspended — not terminated — its nuclear-weapons efforts. Tehran continues to "keep its options open," he pointed out. "As long as they continue with their enrichment activities, then the opportunity to resume that nuclear weapons program is always present."
However, Gates left no doubt where he stands on how to proceed, saying that the revised NIE shows that non-military measures are the best way to curb Iran's nuclear program. "If anything," he said in Kabul, "the new national estimate validates the Administration's strategy of bringing diplomatic and economic pressures to bear on the Iranian government to change its policies."
First, do everything possible to forestall reckless and ruinous military action (thank God there's at last a match for Cheney in bureaucratic infighting). Then tack about to highlight the remaining danger and head off a collapse of meaningful pressure. Simultaneously get across that Iran remains dangerous and yet responsive to concerted international action. Finally, magically recast the Administration's saber rattling as the hard-nosed peace through strength negotiation he would have it be.