National Security Council spokesman John Kirby emphatically denied a report from longtime journalist Seymour Hersh that the United States sabotaged the Nord Stream gas pipelines last week, saying “there is no truth” to it. Hersh had cited an anonymous source for his report claiming that Washington had planned the destruction of the system since before the Russia–Ukraine war broke out, and the Russian government has since called for investigations into the matter.
When asked about Hersh’s claims during a Fox News interview, Kirby stated that “the United States and no proxies of the United States had anything to do” with the pipeline blasts. He added that “there was no U.S. involvement in this. None. Zero,” and that it was a “completely false story.” When asked if the U.S. would have to inform Congress in advance if it were to undertake such a mission, Kirby said that “we did not take any such operation, Shannon, and obviously, we keep Congress informed appropriately of things both classified and unclassified.”
Hersh is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist best known for his reporting on the My Lai massacre and Abu Ghraib torture. However, some in the media have criticized him for his reliance on anonymous sources. For his latest Substack post, Hersh cited an individual who had knowledge of U.S. “operational planning” and nothing else.
After the pipeline explosion last year, the United States and some European countries accused Russia of being behind the sabotage. Russian officials, in response, said that the pipelines were operated by Russian state-run entities and that it would make no sense for the Kremlin to destroy a project it had invested billions of dollars in.
Hersch wrote that the White House’s “decision to sabotage the pipelines came after more than nine months of highly secret back and forth debate inside Washington’s national security community about how to best achieve that goal. For much of that time, the issue was not whether to do the mission, but how to get it done with no overt clue as to who was responsible.” According to an unnamed source, the attack would be “an act of war.” Hersch also reported that divers operating from a Norwegian Alta mine-hunting vessel used a “mixture of oxygen, nitrogen, and helium streaming from their tanks, and plant-shaped C4 charges on the four pipelines with concrete protective covers” before detonating the explosives.
Around the same time, Columbia University economist Jeffrey Sachs drew controversy for accusing the U.S. of sabotaging the pipelines, floating the idea during a Bloomberg TV interview that Washington would greatly benefit from its destruction. President Joe Biden, however, told reporters that claims the United States committed the act were false. Several European countries carried out investigations into the cause of the explosions, which occurred in September 2022 but came up with few answers. The Russian government has categorically denied that it was behind the blasts at the pipelines, which it jointly operated with Germany.