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THE United States has dismissed an account by investigative journalist Seymour Hersh blaming it for blowing up the Nord Stream pipelines as “complete fiction.”
Mr Hersh, who shot to fame for exposing the US massacre of Vietnamese civilians at My Lai and its subsequent cover-up, was also prominent in investigating the Watergate scandal that brought down Richard Nixon in the 1970s and later the torture and abuse of Iraqi prisoners of war at the US Abu Ghraib prison.
On Wednesday he published a detailed account of the planning and implementation of a US plot to blow up the pipelines, which transferred Russian gas to Europe via Germany, apparently based on information from a government source.
Mr Hersh says bombs were placed on the seabed during Nato’s Baltops naval exercises in the Baltic Sea, and detonated later by a remote signal.
The operation was conducted by US Navy divers in collaboration with Norwegian intelligence, which identified the best site to place the bombs, he alleges.
The destruction of the pipelines in September 2022 was an environmental disaster, leaking hundreds of millions of cubic metres of gas into the sea. The resulting emissions have been estimated at around a third of Denmark’s annual carbon footprint.
Though it followed threats from the US including a statement from President Joe Biden that “if Russia invades Ukraine, one way or another Nord Stream 2 will not move forward,” the US has always denied responsibility and suggested Moscow destroyed its own pipelines, though what the motive would be for such sabotage is unclear.
German MPs such as Die Linke’s Sevim Dagdelen have long expressed suspicion of US involvement, pointing to Washington’s determination to prevent rapprochement between Berlin and Moscow and its desire to replace Russian gas exports to Europe with US shale gas.
Russia today said Mr Hersh’s claims should be investigated and those responsible for the sabotage should be punished.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov called for an international inquiry and warned that if the act went unpunished other pipelines around the world could be targeted in a similar way.
The White House said Mr Hersh’s account is “false and complete fiction.” The CIA and the Norwegian government have also rejected the claims.
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