Renowned investigative journalist Seymour Hersh has reported that the US government destroyed the Nord Stream pipelines that delivered Russian gas to Germany.
The pipelines were blown up with explosives in a covert operation that was planned by the CIA and carried out by divers from the US Navy, Hersh reported.
NATO member Norway also played a key role, using its Navy and Secret Service to assist in the attack.
The remotely triggered explosives were placed on the Nord Stream pipelines in June 2022, during NATO military exercises in the Baltic Sea. They were subsequently blown up on September 26.
The operation was reportedly approved by US President Joe Biden and overseen by National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland.
Hersh’s report is based on an internal “source with direct knowledge of the operational planning”. The source admitted that the sabotage of the pipelines constituted “an act of war”.
White House and CIA deny the covert sabotage operation (which they can legally do)
Seymour Hersh is one of the most highly respected journalists in the world. He won the Pulitzer Prize, the top award in Western journalism, for his reporting on US war crimes in Vietnam.
He has spent decades building up sources inside the US government. Hersh has also earned accolades for exposing US atrocities and cover-ups targeting Iraq, Iran, and Syria.
The Biden White House and CIA both vehemently denied Hersh’s report on the Nord Stream pipelines, claiming it is false.
According to US law, the White House and CIA can lie to the public about the existence of covert operations. In his own reporting on joint CIA-NATO sabotage operations inside Russian territory, prominent journalist and US military veteran Jack Murphy noted, “Under Title 50 of the U.S. Code which authorizes covert actions, the CIA can lawfully deny the existence of these operations to everyone except the so-called ‘Gang of Eight’” – a reference to top level US Congressional officials.
Hersh explained in his report that the Biden administration decided to carry out the Nord Stream sabotage operation using the CIA and Navy divers, not US Special Operations forces, to avoid the legal obligation to notify the Gang of Eight.
The Pulitzer prize-winning journalist published the bombshell article at his personal account on the blogging website Substack on February 8. In an accompanying piece, Hersh explained that he decided to use Substack because he has faced a long history of censorship from the mainstream corporate media outlets he has worked with, which litter his reports “with Pentagon denials” and act in “their publishers’ economic interests”.
After Nord Stream was sabotaged, many US media outlets absurdly accused Russia of destroying its own pipelines. Hersh pointed out that these reports were not organic; they were “spurred on by calculated leaks from the White House”.
While the US press fueled these outlandish conspiracy theories, the German media reported that the CIA had warned Berlin weeks before about possible attacks on gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea.
Reuters also revealed that a reconnaissance jet from the US Navy flew near the Nord Stream wreckage just hours after the explosion.
US planning to destroy Nord Stream started before Russia invaded Ukraine
According to Hersh, the Biden administration’s meetings planning to destroy Nord Stream began in December 2021 – more than two months before Russia invaded Ukraine.
The CIA developed the sabotage strategy by early 2022, before Russia sent in its troops on February 24, 2022.
As Geopolitical Economy Report previously noted, President Biden personally threatened on February 7, 2022 that, “If Russia invades” Ukraine, “then there will be no longer a Nord Stream 2. We will bring an end to it”.
Under Secretary of State Nuland made similar comments in a press conference on January 27, 2022, stating, “With regard to Nord Stream 2, we continue to have very strong and clear conversations with our German allies, and I want to be clear with you today: If Russia invades Ukraine, one way or another, Nord Stream 2 will not move forward.”
CIA analyst turned State Department spokesman Ned Price used the exact same prepared phrase a day before, telling NPR, “I want to be very clear: if Russia invades Ukraine one way or another, Nord Stream 2 will not move forward”.
A month before Russia invaded, the neoconservative 3rd in command of the State Dep't, Victoria Nuland (main architect of the 2014 coup in Ukraine), threatened:
“I want to be clear with you today: If Russia invades Ukraine, one way or another, Nord Stream 2 will not move forward” pic.twitter.com/nuX1ChSC51
— Ben Norton (@BenjaminNorton) October 8, 2022
According to Hersh, the sabotage operation was carried out by divers from the US Navy’s Diving and Salvage Center, which is located in Florida’s Panama City. They put explosives on all four pipelines that make up Nord Stream.
The Nord Stream system consists of two main pipelines, each of which has two smaller pipelines, known as Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2. The attack destroyed three of the four.
Immediately after the attack, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken gloated, “Ultimately this is also a tremendous opportunity. It’s a tremendous opportunity to once and for all remove the dependence on Russian energy… That’s very significant, and that offers tremendous strategic opportunity for the years to come”.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on the attacks on the Nord Stream pipelines:
"It’s a tremendous opportunity to once and for all remove the dependence on Russian energy"
"We've significantly increased our [gas] production… We’re now the leading supplier of LNG to Europe" pic.twitter.com/vS9SgDUd2i
— Ben Norton (@BenjaminNorton) October 8, 2022
NATO member Norway helps
According to Seymour Hersh’s report, the “Norwegians were key” in the attack on Nord Stream.
The US used NATO member Norway as its base of operations. Hersh noted that “the U.S. military has vastly expanded its presence inside Norway” in recent years, using the Scandinavian nation to spy on Russia.
Every year, in June, NATO holds military exercises in the Baltic Sea known as Baltic Operations 22, or BALTOPS 22.
During these exercises, off the coast of Denmark’s Bornholm Island, NATO divers practiced placing mines, tracking them, and destroying them.
After the trap had been placed on Nord Stream in June, the Norwegian navy followed US orders and dropped a sonar buoy to set off the C4 explosives on September 26, Hersh wrote.
Norway even surrendered its sovereignty to the US military in 2022, passing the Supplementary Defense Cooperation Agreement (SDCA), which makes Washington the legal authority in northern parts of the country, preventing the local government from prosecuting US soldiers.
Current NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg was himself Norway’s former prime minister. Hersh observed that Stoltenberg is an aggressive war hawk who has collaborated with US intelligence agencies, and his source referred to the NATO chief as “the glove that fits the American hand”.
Hersh added: “The Norwegians may have had other interests as well. The destruction of Nord Stream—if the Americans could pull it off—would allow Norway to sell vastly more of its own natural gas to Europe”.
What Hersh did not mention in his article is another striking detail: Just hours after Nord Stream was sabotaged, NATO members Norway, Denmark, and Poland announced the official opening of a new natural gas pipeline, the Baltic Pipe.
The Baltic Pipe was built with funding from the European Union, and was meant expressly as an alternative to Nord Stream.
Since the Nord Stream pipelines were blown up, Norway has replaced Russia as Europe’s largest supplier of pipeline gas.
Norwegian gas shipments to Germany in particular have reached record highs. In 2021, Norway had provided Germany with less then 20% of its gas supply. By 2022, that figure had shot up to 33%.
Meanwhile, the United States has also become the world’s largest liquified natural gas (LNG) exporter (tied with Qatar).
European imports made up the “lion’s share” of US LNG exports in 2022, quickly replacing Asia as the new top market.
In its move away from cheap Russian pipeline gas, Europe imported record amounts of much more expensive LNG in 2022, enriching fossil fuel corporations and importers.
Top State Department official: The Biden ‘administration is very gratified’ to see Nord Stream ‘at the bottom of the sea’
In a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Russia on January 26, 2023, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland declared with pride, “I am, and I think the administration is, very gratified to know that Nord Stream 2 is now, as you like to say, a hunk of metal at the bottom of the sea”.
3rd in command of the US State Dept, Ukraine coup architect Victoria Nuland, told Republican Senator Ted Cruz this January 26:
“I am and I think the administration is very gratified to know that Nord Stream 2 is now, as you like to say, a hunk of metal at the bottom of the sea” pic.twitter.com/pfLpzZlldY
— Ben Norton (@BenjaminNorton) February 9, 2023
Nuland was responding to questions from Republican Senator Ted Cruz. Like Cruz, Nuland is a hard-line neoconservative.
Nuland was a key figure in the violent US-backed coup in 2014 that overthrew Ukraine’s democratically elected, geopolitically neutral government and installed a pro-Western regime.
Another high-profile neoconservative politician in Europe, Radek Sikorski, the former foreign minister and defense minister of Poland, expressed his gratitude to Washington one day after the attack on Nord Stream.
“Thank you, USA,” Sikorski tweeted, sharing a photo of the wreckage in the Baltic Sea, as the pipelines leaked environmentally destructive gas into the atmosphere.
Before Nord Stream was physically attacked, the United States had waged economic warfare against the pipelines.
The US government had sanctioned companies involved in the project, and even repeatedly threatened to impose sanctions on German firms.
Due to US pressure, Nord Stream 2 was never officially opened, even after it was completed in September 2021, following years of construction and billions of dollars of investment from various European companies.
In 2020, Donald Trump’s CIA Director turned Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pledged that the US government would “do everything we can” to stop Nord Stream 2. He said the pipeline was “dangerous” and a “threat”, boasting, “We’re the toughest administration ever on Russia”.
After US Secretary of State Blinken called the attacks on Nord Stream a "tremendous opportunity" (3 times), Canada's Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly echoed:
"We have increased our production" and "exported to the US for it to be sent to Europe"
She advertised a new LNG facility pic.twitter.com/Mi5lcbppid
— Ben Norton (@BenjaminNorton) October 8, 2022
Nord Stream 1, which was opened in 2011, under the government of Chancellor Angela Merkel, provided Germany with a cheap, plentiful source of natural gas.
This concerned the United States, which has long worried that German economic integration with Russia would challenge Washington’s hegemony.
US imperial strategist Zbigniew Brzezinski, who served as President Jimmy Carter’s national security advisor and oversaw the CIA proxy war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan in the 1980s, warned of the danger of a German-Russian alliance in his 1997 book “The Grand Chessboard”.
A “Russo-German or a Russo-French flirtation” would come at “the detriment of Europe’s transatlantic connection with America”, Brzezinski wrote, emphasizing that preventing “the emergence of a dominant and antagonistic Eurasian power remains central to America’s capacity to exercise global primacy”.
As the website UnHerd noted, another prominent US imperial strategist, George Friedman, wrote in 2010 that “the mere possibility that [Russia] might collaborate with Europe and particularly Germany opens up the most significant threat in the decade, a long-term threat that needs to be nipped in the bud”.
Friedman served as chair of Stratfor, a private intelligence company that is so closely linked to US spy agencies that it is popularly known as the “shadow CIA”.
In a 2015 speech, Friedman stated clearly: “The primordial interest of the United States, over which, for a century, we have fought wars — the First, Second, and Cold War — has been the relationship between Germany and Russia, because united they are the only force that could threaten us, and to make sure that that doesn’t happen”.
US imperial strategist and ex chair of "shadow CIA" Stratfor, George Friedman, said in 2015:
"The primordial interest of the U.S., over which for a century we have fought wars — the First, Second, and Cold War — has been [to sabotage] the relationship between Germany and Russia" pic.twitter.com/Huhaje2HOE
— Ben Norton (@BenjaminNorton) February 11, 2023