JERUSALEM — The last time the centrifuges crashed at Iran’s underground nuclear fuel-production center at Natanz, more than a decade ago, the sabotage was the result of a joint Israeli-American cyberattack intended to slow Tehran’s progress toward nuclear weapons and force a diplomatic negotiation.
When they crashed again this weekend, the White House asserted that the United States had no involvement.
The operation raised the question of whether Israel was acting on its own to strike Iran and undermine American diplomacy as the Biden administration seeks to reconstitute a nuclear agreement. Or, alternatively, whether Israel was operating in concert with American interests, carrying out dirty work that would weaken Iran’s negotiating position in the talks.
The White House was saying almost nothing in public on Monday about the apparent explosion inside Iran’s Natanz facility, below more than 20 feet of reinforced concrete, which destroyed the power supply that keeps the centrifuges spinning at supersonic speeds, enriching uranium.
“The U.S. was not involved in any manner,” the White House spokeswoman, Jen Psaki, said Monday. “We have nothing to add on speculation about the causes or the impacts.”
White House officials did not comment on whether the United States had been given advance notice of the attack.
Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III, who landed in Israel on Sunday, the morning the attack took place, held two press briefings before he left Israel on Monday and never once uttered the word Iran.
White House and State Department officials said they had no idea whether the Iranians would show up in Vienna again on Wednesday, when the talks were scheduled to resume.
In Tehran, lawmakers
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