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Lloyd Austin (L) and Benjamin Netanyahu today in Jerusalem. Photo: Mehahem Kahana/Pool/AFP via Getty

The Biden administration says it had no role in the explosion on Sunday at an Iranian uranium enrichment facility. Iran has blamed Israel and vowed to take revenge.

Why it matters: The administration is attempting to negotiate a return to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, with a second round of indirect talks set to start on Wednesday. The timing of the incident, along with several recent Israeli strikes on Iranian ships, could make Biden's diplomatic challenge more difficult.

What they're saying: "We have seen reports of an incident at the Natanz enrichment facility in Iran. The United States had no involvement, and we have nothing to add to speculation about the causes," a senior Biden administration official said.

  • Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif blamed Israel for the explosion, which resulted in damage to centrifuges used to enrichment uranium. He said the incident would not affect the nuclear talks, but “we will take our revenge against the Zionists.”
  • Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Iran's atomic energy organization, denied a New York Times report that the explosion caused such severe damage that it will take 9 months to repair. Salehi said uranium enrichment continues and the damaged centrifuges will soon be replaced.
  • Iranian media reported that the intelligence services were investigating the incident, and one arrest had already been made.

Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin met this morning in Jerusalem with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

  • Speaking alongside Austin, Netanyahu stressed that Iran was the gravest threat in the region and that Israel would never allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon.
  • Austin stressed the U.S. commitment to Israel's security but did not mention Iran.

Go deeper

Apr 11, 2021 - World

Defense Sec. Austin stresses U.S. commitment to Israel's security amid growing Iran tensions

Issei Kato/Reuters/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin arrived for his first visit in Jerusalem amid nuclear talks in Vienna and growing tensions between Israel and Iran.

Why it matters: Austin met his counterpart Benny Gantz and will meet later with Prime Minister Netanyahu to discuss Iran and regional security issues.

Apr 11, 2021 - World

Iran announces blackout at nuclear facility, possible Israeli cyber attack

Iran announced on Sunday a blackout occurred at its uranium enrichment facility in Natanz.

Why it matters: The incident occurred as U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin arrived for his first visit in Jerusalem amid nuclear talks in Vienna and growing tensions between Israel and Iran.

1 hour ago - Health

Biden reaches agreements with Uber and Lyft to give free rides to vaccine sites

A coronavirus vaccination site in Miami on May 10. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The Biden administration has reached agreements with ride-sharing companies Uber and Lyft to offer free rides to coronavirus vaccination sites through July 4, the White House announced Tuesday.

Why it matters: The free rides, starting in the next two weeks, are part of the Biden administration's push to administer at least one vaccine dose to 70% of U.S. adults by Independence Day.

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