Officials have categorically rejected reporting by a legendary US journalist who claimed Washington blew up the pipelines
US President Joe Biden's administration on Wednesday blasted Pulitzer Prize winner Seymour Hersh for claiming that Washington was behind last year's sabotage of Russia's Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines, saying reporting by the veteran investigative journalist was "utterly false and complete fiction."
White House National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson denied the report, hours after Hersh posted his article on Substack. The former New York Times journalist, who rose to fame when he exposed the My Lai massacre of Vietnamese civilians in 1969, wrote that US Navy divers planted explosives on the Nord Stream conduits under cover of the BALTOPS 22 NATO exercise last June in the Baltic Sea.
The bombs were remotely detonated three months later, rupturing three of the four Nord Stream natural gas pipelines, Hersh said, citing an unidentified "source with direct knowledge of the operational planning." Biden personally approved the sabotage plan, according to the report, and the Norwegian navy helped pick the locations for placing the explosives.
Biden's decision to destroy the pipelines came after more than nine months of secret debate among US national security officials, Hersh said. The president told reporters in early February of 2022 that the US would "bring an end" to Nord Stream 2 if Russian forces launched an offensive against Kiev. Asked how, exactly, that would be achieved, given that the pipeline was in Germany's control, he said, "We will, I promise you, we'll be able to do it."
After the Nord Stream explosions in September, US officials denied involvement and suggested that Russia may have sabotaged its own pipelines. In light of Hersh's reporting, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Wednesday that the White House "must now comment on all these facts."
Hersh has won several major awards for his newspaper and magazine articles, as well as his books. He was credited with exposing the Abu Ghraib torture scandal in 2004 and claimed in 2015 that President Barack Obama's administration fabricated the 2011 killing of Osama bin Laden.