Washington “took out” the Russian gas pipelines, Seymour Hersh has claimed.
The Nord Stream pipelines were destroyed last September by the US in a covert operation, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Seymour Hersh has claimed. The legendary reporter made the bombshell revelation in an article posted to his newly launched blog on Substack on Wednesday.
The explosives were planted at the pipelines back in June 2022 by US Navy divers under the guise of the BALTOPS 22 NATO exercise, Hersh reported, citing a source with direct knowledge of the operational planning.
The journalist noted that he had reached out to the White House and CIA for comment, with both firmly rejecting the claim that the US “took out” the pipelines as “utterly false.”
The bombs were detonated three months later on September 26 with a remote signal sent by a sonar buoy. The buoy was dropped near the Nord Stream pipelines by a Norwegian Navy P8 surveillance plane, according to the report.
The operation came to fruition following months of back-and-forth between the White House, CIA, and military, with officials focusing on how to leave no trace of US involvement in the attack. The planning process began back in December 2021, when a special task force was created with the direct participation of US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan.
“The Navy proposed using a newly commissioned submarine to assault the pipeline directly. The Air Force discussed dropping bombs with delayed fuses that could be set off remotely. The CIA argued that whatever was done, it would have to be covert. Everyone involved understood the stakes,” the report read.
The source told Hersh that everybody involved understood the operation was not some “kiddie stuff” but was actually an “an act of war.” Throughout “all of this scheming” certain officials urged the White House to drop the idea entirely. “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 the source.
Originally, the explosives were to have a 48-hour timer and were set to be planted by the end of BALTOPS22, Hersh reported, citing the same source. The two-day window, however, was ultimately deemed to be too close to the end of the exercise by the White House, which ordered the task force to come up with an on-demand method of detonating them. This ultimately turned out to be the sonar buoy.
The administration of President Joe Biden has been “focused” on jeopardizing the Nord Stream pipelines – initially through sanctions, and, ultimately, by direct sabotage – seeing it as key to swaying Europe to its cause amid the then-looming conflict in Ukraine, Hersh noted.
“As long as Europe remained dependent on the pipelines for cheap natural gas, Washington was afraid that countries like Germany would be reluctant to supply Ukraine with the money and weapons it needed to defeat Russia,” he wrote.
Moscow provided a similar take on the incident shortly after the blasts, branding them a “terrorist attack” and stating that the US was the nation that benefited most from it, by accelerating Europe’s attempts to wean itself off of Russian gas.
Throughout his career, Hersh has reported on numerous explosive stories, including war crimes by the US military and high-profile political scandals. Exposing the My Lai massacre by US troops in Vietnam scored the journalist the Pulitzer Prize in 1970. Other notable stories Hersh reported on include the Watergate scandal, the CIA illegal domestic spying, as well as the American military’s torture and abuse of detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.