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White House rejects report that US was behind Nord Stream sabotage

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Gas leaking from the sabotaged Nord Stream pipelines in September 2022./AFP
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Feb 09, 2023 - 03:47 AM

WASHINGTON — The White House flatly rejected Wednesday a new report by veteran investigative journalist Seymour Hersh that the US was behind the sabotage of the Nord Stream gas pipelines last year.

In a self-published report, Hersh wrote that US Navy divers helped by Norway had planted explosives on the pipelines running under the Baltic Sea between Russia and Germany last June and detonated them three months later.

White House National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson described the Hersh report, published on his page on the Substack web service, as “complete fiction.”

A Central Intelligence Agency spokesperson echoed the White House denial, calling the report “completely and utterly false.”

Asked about Hersh’s claim that Oslo supported the operation, the Norwegian foreign ministry said: “These claims are false.”

The September explosions were blamed by Western countries on Russia, adding to the anger against Moscow in the wake of its invasion of Ukraine.

But so far investigations by Swedish, Danish and German authorities have not pinned the blame on any one country or actor.

Hersh said the decision to bomb the pipelines, which were shut down but contained residual gas, was made in secret by US President Joe Biden to cut off Moscow’s ability to earn billions of dollars from natural gas sales to Europe.

The US also believed pipelines gave Russia political leverage over Germany and Western Europe that could be used to weaken their commitment to Ukraine after Russia invaded, according to Hersh.

Two weeks before the February 24 invasion, Hersh noted, Biden himself said publicly that the US would not allow the new Nord Stream 2 pipeline to be opened if Russia attacked Ukraine.

Hersh alleged, citing a single unnamed source, that the idea came up first in December 2021 in discussions among Biden’s top national security advisors on how to respond to Russia’s expected invasion of Ukraine.

The CIA developed the plan, and under cover of NATO exercises in June 2022, the Navy divers, with help from Norway, planted the explosives on the pipelines that could be detonated remotely, Hersh wrote.

In speculation after the pipelines erupted on September 26, several countries were said to have motives for the action: Russia, Germany, Ukraine, Poland, Britain, and the United States.

Western fingers have continued to point at Russia, and Moscow has accused the US and Britain of the sabotage.

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