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Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist claims US behind Nord Stream pipeline blast

The White House has called the report "utterly false and complete fiction"

FILES-UKRAINE-RUSSIA-CONFLICT-US-NORDSTREAM (File) Gas leak at the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline site as it is seen from the Danish Defence's F-16, at Baltic island of Bornholm, south of Dueodde | Reuters

A Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist has come up with an explosive claim that it was the US Navy divers who planted the bombs that destroyed the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines under the Baltic Sea last September.

Seymour Hersh, an 82-year-old US-based journalist, claimed in his blogpost that Americans planted remotely-triggered explosives that damaged the three of the four pipelines built to carry natural gas from Russia to Europe.  

Hersh is a renowed investigative journalist who exposed the My Lai massacre during the Vietnam War. He had also been instrumental in bringing to light the Watergate scandal and the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse.

According to Hersh, the Navy conducted the operation under the guise of a NATO maritime exercise, BALTOPS 22. "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," read Harsh's report.

The underwater blast resulted in a burst of Methane gas to the surface. As per reports, over 500 million cubic meters of gas was lost, equivalent of 8 million tons of carbon dioxide, or 1/5000 of annual global CO2 emission. Though the US and the west were quick to blame Russia, Moscow said the West had "something to hide" and were purposefully blocking Russia from the investigation.

Hersh's report said America's political fears were that "Germany and the rest of Western Europe would become addicted to low-cost natural gas supplied by Russia" which would diminish European reliance on America.

However, the plan to sabotage the pipeline was taken much before the war began when National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan convened a meeting of a newly-formed task force and said the proposed "plan for the destruction" was being delivered on the desires of the President. On February 7, US President Joe Biden declared publicly, "If Russia invades … there will be no longer a Nord Stream 2. We will bring an end to it."

Though the explosives were planted during the exercise in June, the US did not to trigger the explosions until September. "On September 26, 2022, a Norwegian Navy P8 surveillance plane made a seemingly routine flight and dropped a sonar buoy. The signal spread underwater, initially to Nord Stream 2 and then on to Nord Stream 1. A few hours later, the high-powered C4 explosives were triggered and three of the four pipelines were put out of commission. Within a few minutes, pools of methane gas that remained in the shuttered pipelines could be seen spreading on the water’s surface," Hersh's report added.

However, the White House has come out against the report, calling it "utterly false and complete fiction." 

"This is utterly false and complete fiction," said Adrienne Watson, a spokesperson for the White House National Security Council was quoted by Reuters. The spokespeople for the CIA and State Department said the same. 

Russia's foreign ministry too responded to the statement, adding the United States had questions to answer over its role in explosions on the pipelines.

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