White House officials on Feb. 8 dismissed a report from an investigative journalist that claims the United States was behind the sabotage of the Nord Stream gas pipelines in 2022.
“This is utterly false and complete fiction,” Adrienne Watson, a spokesperson for the White House National Security Council, said in a statement to news outlets on Feb. 8. A State Department spokesperson issued a similar comment to Reuters.
Longtime investigative journalist Seymour Hersh, a former reporter with The New York Times and The New Yorker magazine who first gained prominence in 1969 for his reporting on the My Lai massacre during the Vietnam War, published a report on his Substack page on Feb. 8, titled “How America Took Out The Nord Stream Pipeline,” that cited unnamed sources for his claims.
“Last June, the Navy divers, operating under the cover of a widely publicized mid-summer NATO exercise known as BALTOPS 22, planted the remotely triggered explosives that, three months later, destroyed three of the four Nord Stream pipelines, according to a source with direct knowledge of the operational planning,” Hersch wrote.
Tammy Thorp, a spokesperson for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), similarly said in a statement that “this claim is completely and utterly false.”
The Epoch Times hasn’t been able to corroborate the report. The White House didn’t respond by press time to a request for comment.
Ultimately, Hersch’s report, which is based on anonymous sources, concluded that President Joe Biden’s administration conducted a covert operation through the CIA to blow up the pipeline.
Several European countries carried out investigations into the cause of the explosions, which occurred in September 2022 but came up with few answers. The Russian government has categorically denied that it was behind the blasts at the pipelines, which it jointly operated with Germany.
Hersch, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, went on to say that the White House’s “decision to sabotage the pipelines came after more than nine months of highly secret back and forth debate inside Washington’s national security community about how to best achieve that goal. For much of that time, the issue was not whether to do the mission, but how to get it done with no overt clue as to who was responsible.”
“This is not kiddie stuff,” the aforementioned unnamed source told him. Hersch didn’t provide any more details about the person, including whether they worked for the U.S. government. But that person noted that such an attack would be “an act of war.”
During “all of this scheming,” the alleged source told the 85-year-old Hersch, “some working guys in the CIA and the State Department were saying, ‘Don’t do this. It’s stupid and will be a political nightmare if it comes out.’”
According to his Substack post, divers operating from a Norwegian Alta mine-hunting vessel used a “mixture of oxygen, nitrogen, and helium streaming from their tanks, and plant shaped C4 charges on the four pipelines with concrete protective covers” before detonating the explosives. Again, he cited unnamed sources, a practice that has long been the subject of criticism against Hersch’s previous reporting.
When Hersch claimed years ago that the Obama White House told lies about the killing of terror mastermind Osama bin Laden, a critic with The Washington Post in 2015 noted that “Hersh relied at least 55 times on an anonymous retired senior intelligence official.”
Nord Stream Investigation
Russia’s foreign ministry said on Feb. 8 that the United States has to answer questions following Hersch’s reporting. In response to that report, Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova called on the White House to issue a statement on the “facts.”
Moscow has repeatedly said the West was behind last September’s explosions affecting the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines, multibillion-dollar infrastructure projects that carried Russian gas to Germany under the Baltic Sea.
Investigators from Sweden and Denmark, in whose exclusive economic zones the explosions occurred, have said the ruptures were a result of sabotage but haven’t said who they believe was responsible.
Construction of Nord Stream 2, designed to double the amount of gas Russia could send directly to Germany under the sea, was completed in September 2021 but was never put into operation after Berlin shelved certification just days before Moscow sent its troops into Ukraine in February.
Reuters contributed to this report.