U.S. urged to explain Nord Stream blasts after Pulitzer winner's probe

2023-02-10 10:19:07Global Times Editor : Mo Honge ECNS App Download

Six months after the explosion of the Nord Stream gas pipelines which shocked the world, an article by veteran U.S. investigative journalist Seymour Hersh has accused the U.S. of being the culprit of the blasts.

Washington has denied the accusations without further explanation, but the article immediately prompted a fierce verbal confrontation between the U.S. and Russia and making waves in geopolitics.

Given previous U.S. behaviors, Chinese experts believe that the Hersh report is highly credible and Washington's denial cannot hinder Russia's determination to dig out more evidence from the report's value as a clue.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova on Wednesday urged the U.S. to give an explanation over its role in 2022 explosion of the Nord Stream gas pipelines. "The White House must now comment on all these facts," Zakharova said in a post on her Telegram page.

In response, White House National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said on Wednesday that the investigative article was "utterly false and complete fiction," and the CIA and Pentagon also dismissed the allegation with similar rhetoric, according to media reports.

Hersh, an 85-year-old Pulitzer Prize winner, published the article on his personal website on Wednesday, stating the U.S. military involvement of sabotaging the Nord Stream gas pipelines after senior White House officials' nine-month long plot inside the national security community.

Citing sources with direct knowledge of the plot, the article revealed many details of the operation: Explosives were planted by U.S. Navy divers under the cover of the NATO maritime exercise; and a surveillance plane of NATO member Norway triggered the explosives on September 26, 2022 after U.S. President Joe Biden greenlighted the operation.

Although there's no final verdict on who was responsible, the U.S., NATO, as well as investigators from Sweden and Denmark agreed it was "a result of sabotage."

Finding smoking gun

Some U.S. media had blamed Russia as the likely culprit soon after the Nord Stream explosion in September 2022, but Hersh wrote that political elites from his country has more incentives to destroy the pipeline regarding their words prior to the incident.

On February 7, 2022, U.S. President Joe Biden threatened that "if Russian tanks or troops cross the border of Ukraine, there will be no longer a Nord Stream 2."

At a press conference in September 2022 about the consequences of the worsening energy crisis in Western Europe, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken suggested halting Nord Stream is a "tremendous opportunity to once and for all remove the dependence on Russian energy" and stop Russia from "weaponizing energy" for political purposes.

If Biden were an ordinary citizen, and a tube explosion had happened somewhere in the U.S. after Biden made those threats, his words would have been interpreted by the U.S. procurator as a strong motive, and Biden would bear legal liability,Lü Xiang, an expert on U.S. studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Thursday.

Hersh proved his credibility in his investigations on the 1969 massacre of Vietnamese civilians by U.S. forces and U.S. troops brutalizing Iraqi prisoners after the U.S. invasion in 2003, which prompted Lü to believe in his latest investigation of the North Stream pipeline explosion.

"Even if it's not 100 percent accurate - exposure of such shady activity can hardly be 100 percent accurate - it's definitely not made up out of nowhere," Lü noted.

As of press time, U.S. mainstream media including The New York Times and The Washington Post maintained silence on the matter, which is qualified to be top on a U.S. newspaper's front page.

Lü suspected the consistent silence was a sound coordination between the U.S. media and the U.S. government, and the strategy is to deny it and wipe it from news portals even if their smoking gun was caught.

Li Haidong, a professor at the Institute of International Relations at the China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times on Thursday that as the U.S. had used washing powder to accuse Iraq of possessing weapons of mass destruction, it's a genius of playing dirty.

Hersh's courage should be praised, yet analysts expressed concerns about his safety.

It is obvious that the U.S. benefited most from the destroyed pipelines. "If the U.S. was behind the sabotage, definitely the Americans would have carefully planned how to destroy or hide the evidence and mislead the public," Li said.

Lü said that without an entity in legal sense to be in charge of such international disputes, it is almost impossible to establish a legal fact even if more evidence further support the point that the U.S. was the culprit. But this investigative report will strengthen Russia's determination to dig out more evidence, he said.

Reactions to the blasts by some Western leaders also added to suspicion of U.S., including then British Prime Minister Liz Truss' texting "it's done" to Blinken and former Polish foreign minister's tweet "Thank you, USA."

In January 2023, Russia blamed that Sweden and Denmark, who were investigating holes in the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines, "have something to hide" and blocked Russia from engaging in the joint investigation.

"Whether or not the U.S. is the culprit, Europe has acted too obedient. It is also tragic that as the Russia-Ukraine conflict intensifies, Europe has less and less room to bargain with U.S. on security issues," Li said.

European politicians should reflect on whether blindly following the U.S. would ultimately benefit Europe, or just the opposite, the expert said. He urged Europe to effectively strengthen autonomy. "Otherwise incidents like the Nord Steam pipeline blasts could happen again, and the price will again be paid by Europe, not the U.S.."


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