The United States and its Norwegian allies are responsible for attacks on the Nord Stream pipeline, according to a report by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh, published in February 2023 on his Substack. Hersh’s unnamed sources claim the US Navy used an annual training exercise known as BALTOPS 22 as cover for the planting of remote-operated bombs. According to Hersh, a source “with direct knowledge of the operation” stated that those remotely triggered explosives subsequently destroyed three of the four Nord Stream pipelines.
For more than a decade, Russia has exerted influence in the region by supplying Germany and other Western European nations with natural gas via Nord Stream 1. The completion of Nord Stream 2 in late 2021 effectively doubled the amount of relatively inexpensive gas flowing from Russia to Western Europe, further weakening US influence over European nations, including its NATO allies.
On February 7, 2022, in a joint press briefing with German chancellor Olaf Scholz, President Biden asserted that if Russia invaded Ukraine, then “we will bring an end” to Nord Stream 2. Several weeks later, Victoria Nuland, Biden’s Undersecretary of State, reiterated this position.
Biden and Nuland’s indirect references to the attack “dismayed” those planning the pipeline mission, Hersh reported, but their remarks “also created an opportunity.” Senior CIA officials determined that the pipeline mission “no longer could be considered a covert option” because the president had discussed it publicly. Downgraded in status from a covert operation to a highly classified intelligence operation, the mission no longer required the briefing or oversight of Senate and House leadership.
A desire to avoid informing Congress also explained a previous decision to task divers from the US Navy’s Diving and Salvage Center with the mission, Hersh reported. Covert operations involving United States Special Operations Command (SOCOM) “must be reported to Congress and briefed in advance to the Senate and House leadership.” Navy divers could conduct the operation without the need to brief congressional leaders who might leak information and expose the mission.
Hersh’s sources detailed not only the planning of the mission but also how it was carried out. Norway served as the mission’s base, taking advantage of expanded US and Norwegian military facilities, including a newly refurbished US submarine base, which became operational in 2021, and the expansion of a Norwegian air base equipped with Boeing P8 Poseidon patrol planes capable of long-range surveillance.
To minimize the likelihood of Russia’s advanced underwater surveillance technologies detecting the mission, the US and Norway used the Baltic Operations 22 military training exercise as cover. On the day of the explosion, a Norwegian Navy P8 surveillance plane dropped a sonar buoy, sending a signal to Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 and triggering the powerful C4 explosives that Navy divers had previously planted on the pipelines.
As of March 1, 2023, Hersh’s exposé has been mostly ignored or belittled by the establishment press. The Washington Post and the New York Post have covered the story, but worked hard to discredit it. Both publications cited White House spokesperson Adrienne Watson, who dismissed the article as “false and complete fiction.” The story has also been picked up by independent outlets including Democracy Now!, MintPress News, and Jacobin, but most establishment outlets have not taken Hersh’s reporting seriously, despite his established record of accurate investigative reporting on controversial US military operations.
Source: Seymour Hersh, “How America Took Out The Nord Stream Pipeline,” Substack, February 8, 2023.
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