New Details: How the CIA Planned the Attacks on the Nord Stream Pipelines

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According to information from US journalist Seymour Hersh, the US and Norway are said to be behind the attacks on the Nord Stream pipelines. What is interesting about the report, which refers to an anonymous source, are the details of the planning, which began in December 2021.

Meanwhile, the research of the US investigative journalist Seymour Hersh seems to confirm what seemed obvious to many: The USA (and Norway) are behind the attacks on the Nord Stream pipelines.

Victoria Nuland: "We are pleased that Nord Stream 2 is a pile of junk on the seabed"

Victoria Nuland: “We are pleased that Nord Stream 2 is a pile of junk on the seabed”

This is actually not surprising, because on the one hand it was clear that the USA was one of the biggest beneficiaries of the attack. On the other hand, there are numerous public statements by US President Joe Biden and his foreign policy team, including National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, Secretary of State Tony Blinken and Victoria Nuland, the Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, which at least suggest that the US is at fault.

On February 7, 2022, less than three weeks before the start of the war in Ukraine, Biden met with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD). At the subsequent press conference, in the presence of Scholz, Biden said:

“If Russia invades…there will be no more Nord Stream 2. We will put an end to that.”

Previously, Nuland had explained essentially the same thing:

“I want to be very clear today,” she said in response to a question. “If Russia invades Ukraine, Nord Stream 2 will not progress one way or the other.”

It is also known that following the September pipeline attacks, Nuland told Senator Ted Cruz at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing in late January:

“Senator Cruz, like you, I am, and I think the government is too, very pleased to know that Nord Stream 2 is now, as you say, a pile of junk at the bottom of the sea.”

"For reasons of state welfare" - information on Nord Stream attacks remains secret

“For reasons of state welfare” – information on Nord Stream attacks remains secret

What is interesting about Hersh’s revelations, however, are the details of exactly how the US planned and carried out the bombing. The explosives were planted on the pipelines by US Navy divers in June 2022 under cover of NATO exercise BALTOPS 22, he reports, citing a source familiar with the matter.

According to the report, divers at the US Navy’s dive and salvage center in Panama City were deployed. There was also a specific reason, according to Hersh: The divers belonged exclusively to the Navy and not to the US Special Forces Command, whose covert operations must be reported to Congress and communicated in advance to Senate and House leaders. The Biden administration therefore did everything possible to avoid leaks in the planning of the operation.

According to Hersh’s source, the planning is said to have taken place as early as December 2021, when tensions between Russia and Ukraine were increasing. At this point, U.S. attention once again turned to Nord Stream. The Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist writes:

“As long as Europe remained dependent on pipelines for cheap natural gas, Washington feared that countries like Germany would be reluctant to provide Ukraine with the money and weapons it needed to defeat Russia.”

At the time, Biden hired Jake Sullivan to assemble an interagency group to come up with a plan. In December 2021, Jake Sullivan called a meeting of a newly formed task force — men and women from the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the CIA, the State Department, and the Treasury Department — asking for recommendations on how to respond to Putin’s impending invasion. Sullivan intended the group to come up with a plan for the destruction of the two Nord Stream pipelines.

In subsequent sessions, participants discussed options for an attack. The Navy proposed using a newly commissioned submarine to attack the pipeline directly. The Luftwaffe discussed dropping delayed-fuze bombs that could be remotely detonated. The CIA took the view that the attack had to be covert in any case. According to the report, everyone involved knew what was at stake. “This is no kid stuff,” the source said. If the attack could be traced back to the United States, “it would be an act of war.”

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CIA chief William Burns then authorized a task force working group whose members included someone familiar with the capabilities of the Navy’s deep-sea divers in Panama City. Over the next few weeks, members of the CIA working group began devising a plan for a covert operation that would use deep-sea divers to set off an explosion along the pipeline.

Still, the task force was initially skeptical about the CIA’s enthusiasm for a deep-sea covert attack. There were too many unanswered questions. The waters of the Baltic Sea were heavily patrolled by the Russian Navy and there were no oil platforms that could be used as cover for a diving operation.

“During all of this planning, the source said, some CIA and State Department officials said, ‘Don’t do this. It’s stupid and will be a political nightmare when it comes out.'”

Nonetheless, in early 2022, the CIA working group reported to Sullivan’s interagency group:

“We have a way of blowing up the pipelines.”

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However, Biden and Nuland’s references in February 2022 caused frustration for some in the group. According to the source, some senior CIA officials felt that blowing up the pipeline “could no longer be considered a covert option because the President had just announced that we knew how to do it.” The members of the working group had no direct contact with the White House, but were keen to find out whether the President was serious about what he had said. The source recalled, “Bill Burns came back and said, ‘Do it!'”

According to Hersh, the USA also had good reasons for working with the Norwegians: Norway was one of the first to sign the NATO treaty in 1949, and the current Secretary General is Jens Stoltenberg, who was Prime Minister of Norway for eight years. In addition, the USA had expanded its military presence in Norway in recent years:

“They hated the Russians, and the Norwegian Navy was full of excellent seamen and divers with generations of experience in highly profitable deep-sea oil and gas exploration.”,

said the source.

The Norwegians may have had other interests as well, as destroying the pipelines would allow Norway to sell far more of its own natural gas to Europe. Together with the Norwegian Navy, the US task force then decided on the “ideal” location, just a few miles off the Danish island of Bornholm. At this point, the pipelines ran more than a kilometer apart along a seabed that was only about 80 meters deep.

Originally, the explosives were to be given a 48-hour timer and placed by the end of maneuver BALTOPS 22, Hersh reported. Shortly before the mission went ahead, however, Washington changed its mind: while the bombs were still supposed to be planted during the BALTOPS exercise, the White House feared that a two-day window for their detonation was too close to the end of the exercise would, and that it would be obvious that America was involved. Therefore, the task force was instructed to find a method to detonate the explosive devices on demand. Finally, the option of a sonar buoy was decided upon. Hersh writes:

“On September 26, 2022, a Norwegian Navy P8 surveillance aircraft dropped a sonar buoy in what appeared to be a routine flight. The signal propagated underwater, first to Nord Stream 2 and then to Nord Stream 1. A few hours later, the high-power C4 “Explosives detonated and three of the four pipelines were shut down. Within minutes, methane gas remaining in the shut down pipelines could be seen spreading to the surface of the sea and the world learned that something irreversible had happened.”

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USA by far the most likely culprit – Jeffrey Sachs on pipeline sabotage

Hersh confirmed to the news outlet on Wednesday TASS reiterated the credibility of the source that had provided him with the data to support a story of US involvement in the sabotage of the Nord Stream pipelines. The journalist also said he believes the US government is likely to deny its involvement in the sabotage.

In fact, the White House and the Pentagon have denied the allegations: White House National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said the TASS when asked for comment: “This is completely false and fictitious.” Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Garron Garn also made the statement on Wednesday TASSthat the United States was not involved in the Nord Stream gas pipeline explosions. The United Nations said it was unable to verify the report. Deputy spokesman for the UN Secretary-General Farhan Haq said:

“I have no way of verifying this particular report. Of course, it would be up to US journalists to verify the veracity of these claims. Beyond that, I cannot comment at this time.”

The Russian Foreign Ministry earlier said in response to the report that the United States needed to answer questions about its role in last year’s blasts at the Nord Stream submarine gas pipelines. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova asked the White House to comment on the facts presented.

More on the subject – US investigative journalist Hersh: US is behind Nord Stream attacks

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