One Year On, Security Council Hears Renewed Calls to Determine the Cause of Undersea Explosions Targeting Nord Stream Gas Pipelines
9424TH MEETING (PM)
26 SEPTEMBER 2023
On the first anniversary of the attacks on the Nord Stream gas pipelines under the Baltic Sea, speakers in the Security Council today reiterated their calls for objective and impartial investigations — carried out with a heightened sense of urgency — into the explosions.
Dirk Pohlmann, journalist, briefing the Council during a meeting requested by the Russian Federation, said that one year on, “astonishing little” is known about the Nord Stream explosions. While it is not known who is responsible, he said that he rejected the “Western-sponsored conspiracy theory” that identifies the Russian Federation as the culprit. The authorities in Germany, Denmark and Sweden — which are conducting ongoing investigations — “know enough”, he said, adding that the truth would open a Pandora’s box for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
Jimmy Dore, political commentator, recalled that President Joseph R. Biden of the United States had said in February 2022 that if the Russian Federation invaded Ukraine, “there will no longer be a Nord Stream 2. We will bring an end to it.” He added that through anonymous sources, the United States says that Ukraine is responsible for the Nord Stream attack — but it will not publicly blame that country. “And so, the United States continues to arm Ukraine to the teeth in hopes of extending the war and avoiding peace,” he said.
In the ensuing debate, delegates expressed concerns about the long-term environmental implications and unpredictable consequences of the Nord Stream attacks. Many voiced support for the ongoing Danish, German and Swedish investigations and called for their outcomes to be made public and reported to the Council.
The United Arab Emirates’ representative said that sabotage against transboundary energy infrastructure is a grave threat to international energy security. When such acts occur, competent national authorities must investigate. He stressed the need for international coordination and cooperation, adding that investigations should be thorough and rigorously fact-based.
Brazil’s representative said that any attack on energy infrastructure is bound to have a profound impact on how international actors perceive the security of their critical assets. Calling for the timely disclosure of preliminary conclusions, he warned: “Lack of reliable information leaves ample room for speculation and accusations.”
The Russian Federation’s representative said that emerging evidence indicates that the United States had carried out this outrageous criminal act, guided by a selfish desire to consolidate its dominance in Europe. Given a coordinated campaign in Western media to promote ridiculous versions of what happened, Moscow will continue to seek an objective, thorough investigation of the facts, with the mandatory involvement of its own authorities, he said.
The United States’ representative called the Russian Federation’s “disingenuous remarks” an attempt to undermine the ongoing investigations and prejudice their results. Moscow is calling for an impartial investigation, but at the same time it is attempting prematurely to place the blame on certain countries, he said, adding: “It is not surprising that it selectively promotes narratives that comport with its preordained conclusion.”
Mozambique’s representative recalled that when his country was Council President in March, attempts were made to establish an independent investigation under the auspices of the Secretary-General. Instead, it was decided that such a step could interfere with the national investigations already underway. “Despite consensus that the bombing of the Nord Stream pipeline was indeed sabotage, the international community is no closer to the truth,” he continued.
DIRK POHLMANN, journalist, speaking via video-teleconference, said that one year on, “astonishing little” is known about the Nord Stream explosions. It is not known who is responsible, he said, adding however that he rejects the “Western-sponsored conspiracy theory” that identifies the Russian Federation as the culprit. The authorities in Germany, Denmark and Sweden “know enough”, he said, and the truth would open a Pandora’s box for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Presenting evidence from Ola Tunander of the Peace Research Institute Oslo, he said that the explosives were placed in the Bornholm Basin at a depth of 75 to 80 meters, a depth that would require the use of a decompression chamber and indicates the participation of professional or military divers.
Citing reporting by journalist Seymour Hersh, he said that a Poseidon aircraft that flew back and forth between Sigonella, Italy and the Nordholz navy airfield in Germany for three nights prior to the explosions could have easily dropped a sonar buoy close to Bornholm. Quoting another expert, Hans Benjamin Braun, he said that the official reports agreed that the pipelines were destroyed with an explosive charge equivalent to a few hundred kilograms of conventional explosives. Moreover, geophysical evidence points to the use of an explosive charge at least 1,000 times of what has been reported previously. He added that explosives were placed at a point along Nord Stream 1 where the elliptically shaped Swedish coastline would act as a “focusing mirror” for the emitted shockwave, while also ensuring direct and unobscured connection between the site and the Kaliningrad coast. “The location of the explosion site was designed to generate a shock wave directed at Kaliningrad,” he said.
This effect was missed in official reports, which were restricted to seismic stations to the West of the explosion site, he continued, saying that the explosions that destroyed Nord Stream 1 correspond to the use of one to four kilotons of trinitrotoluene, also known as TNT, rather than conventional explosives of a few hundred kilograms. He went on to say that the bottom of the Baltic Sea is “packed with hydrophones” which have enabled Western countries since the late 1970s to identify every vessel on and below the surface. Soviet pipelines have been a target of Western intelligence before, he added, with the Central Intelligence Agency destroying the Yamal pipeline in 1982 with malfunctioning chips. He also noted that the former German Chancellor, Helmut Schmidt, fell out of grace with President Ronald Reagan of the United States when he insisted in the 1980s on a gas pipeline deal to secure “cheap Soviet gas” for Europe.
JIMMY DORE, political commentator, speaking via video-teleconference, said: “You have to be a paid liar to not acknowledge the hand of the United States in carrying out these attacks.” He recalled that on 9 February 2022, President Joseph R. Biden of the United States said that if the Russian Federation invaded Ukraine, “there will no longer be a Nord Stream 2. We will bring an end to it.” An economic war is underway between the West and the Russian Federation to fill the pockets of rapacious capitalists who pull the strings of the Government of the United States and dictate its foreign policy. “It’s all happening under the guise of defending Ukraine from an unprovoked Russian invasion.”
The United States and NATO are to blame, he said, adding that the Western media’s coverage is leaving most people in the dark. The true cause of not only the Nord Stream bombing, but also the Ukraine war and the destabilization of the Middle East is the imperialistic lust of the United States empire, which now has over 800 military bases around the world, he said, emphasizing that the real threat is the United States’ economic interests.
Elaborating, he said that for several decades, the United States has feared German capital and engineering joining the Russian Federation’s manpower and natural resources. “Because a neutral Ukraine would impede the primordial United States goal of a Russia-German fissure, the United States has opted for a proxy war instead.” Through anonymous sources, the United States says that Ukraine is responsible for the Nord Stream attack, but it will not publicly blame that country. “And so, the United States continues to arm Ukraine to the teeth in hopes of extending the war and avoiding peace.” For its part, Germany will not release the findings of its official investigation, nor will it make an announcement. Moreover, the actions of those in the West who claim to be environmentalists reveal that they do not actually care about climate change; instead, they continue to support the war and its ecoterrorism, he said.
VASSILY A. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation) noted that in the year since the act of sabotage in the Baltic Sea, “we have heard a great deal about how national investigations carried out by Germany, Denmark and Sweden are about to find the culprits of this crime”. Meanwhile, more evidence is emerging in the expert community indicating that Washington committed this outrageous criminal act, guided by a narrowly selfish desire to consolidate its dominance in Europe, which is in dire need of Russian Federation energy resources. He delineated the history of events, including unanswered Russian Federation requests to Berlin, Copenhagen and Stockholm for a comprehensive investigation, as well as their submission of a draft resolution to the Council, which was not adopted. Moreover, showing clear disrespect, Germany, Denmark and Sweden ignored a request to speak at the Council meeting on 11 July. “We are not talking about some kind of hooligan prank,” but a terrorist attack that affected the international pipeline infrastructure, he said.
No one denies that the act was committed using an explosive device, and therefore should fall under the International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings of 1997, to which Germany, Denmark and Sweden are parties, he continued. However, a coordinated campaign to promote completely ridiculous versions of what happened is growing in the Western media, including that Moscow itself blew up a gas pipeline that was functioning in its interests. He pointed to an investigation by Seymour Hersh indicating that the explosives were planted by American divers during NATO’s BALTOPS exercises in the summer of 2022. He further recalled that President Biden said that the United States would “bring an end” to Nord Stream 2. Western members of the Council will assert that the Russian Federation is distracting the Council from serious matters, but Moscow will continue to seek an objective, thorough investigation of the facts, with the mandatory involvement of its own authorities.
HAMAMOTO YUKIYA (Japan), underscoring the importance of reliable natural gas supplies, said that given the fragility of the global energy landscape, acts which endanger critical infrastructure pose a risk to many. Expressing concern over the Nord Stream incident and its long-term environmental implications, he said that Japan is vigilantly following the investigations led by Germany, Sweden and Denmark. “We have faith that these will be executed with the utmost fairness and transparency,” he said, calling for the outcomes of those investigations to be made public and expeditiously reported to the Security Council. To address matters affecting international peace and security, the organ needs to have facts before it, he emphasized.
SÉRGIO FRANÇA DANESE (Brazil) said that the Nord Stream 1 and 2 explosions caused enormous economic losses, aggravated international tensions and heightened political uncertainly in the region. Any attack on energy infrastructure is bound to have a profound impact on how international actors perceive the security of their critical assets. Insufficient attention is being paid to the environmental impacts, in stark contrast to the readiness of many nations to assign blame when similar incidents occur in other regions. Underscoring the importance of determining the causes of the incident, without external interference, he called for the transparent and timely disclosure of preliminary conclusions. “Lack of reliable information leaves ample room for speculation and accusations, including those related to the war in Ukraine,” he said.
MICHEL XAVIER BIANG (Gabon) said that the Nord Stream attacks were malicious and had significant repercussions on the environment and economy. The Council is awaiting the findings of a joint investigation which is expected to shed light on the situation. Gabon encourages all parties to partake in an impartial, apolitical dynamic, he said, emphasizing that to do otherwise would jeopardize trust. Cooperation and the exchange of information should prevail over all other considerations in order to reveal the truth, he noted.
HERNÁN PÉREZ LOOSE (Ecuador) said that there is no justification for attacks against essential civilian infrastructure, including energy infrastructure. Such acts exacerbate tensions and could trigger unpredictable consequences, he said, calling on States to avoid speculation and to exercise maximum restraint. Ecuador will continue to be guided by information provided in the past to the Council by the Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, he said, adding that information provided by Sweden, Germany and Denmark reflects the complex nature of ongoing national investigations, which must progress in line with the fundamental principles of the rule of law.
ADRIAN DOMINIK HAURI (Switzerland) reiterated his country’s concern for the alleged acts of sabotage, saying that such attacks have harmful consequences on the general population and the environment. He welcomed the information contained in the joint letter from Denmark, Germany and Sweden concerning their respective ongoing national investigations, adding that their conclusions will shed light on the facts.
GENG SHUANG (China), recalling that many Council Members had underscored that investigations into the incident must be objective and impartial, voiced regret that they have not yielded a clear and authoritative conclusion. The countries concerned have been conducting country-specific investigations for quite some time, but their results are elusive. Further delays will make it harder to collect evidence and could lead to less than credible results. Investigations must therefore be carried out with a heightened sense of urgency. Given that the Russian Federation is one of the main parties involved in the explosion, countries concerned must communicate and cooperate with that country rather than reject it, he said, adding that any politicization of the investigation will arouse suspicion. For its part, the Council must refrain from applying double standards on the issue and ensure the perpetrators are brought to justice, he added.
DARREN CAMILLERI (Malta), condemning the sabotage of the Nord Stream pipelines, said that such actions pose a serious threat to energy security and regional stability. They also exacerbate the challenges faced by developing nations resulting from the Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine. Describing the investigations by Denmark, Germany and Sweden as ongoing and complex, he said that Malta does not question their methods or credibility. Claims that enough time has passed to draw conclusions are groundless, he said, adding that speculation fosters distrust among States. Those three countries have the means to carry out their investigations and establishing more investigations would be counter-productive, he said.
FERGUS JOHN ECKERSLEY (United Kingdom) said that he was confident that Germany, Denmark and Sweden are carrying out their investigations with impartiality. It is not a good use of the Council’s time to prejudge the outcome of these investigations, dictate how they are conducted, or otherwise undermine them. It should rather support those efforts, he said, adding that if the Russian Federation is seriously concerned about civilian infrastructure, it must cease its relentless attacks in Ukraine and ensure accountability for the destruction and suffering they have caused.
MOHAMED ISSA ABUSHAHAB (United Arab Emirates), condemning the “acts of sabotage” against the Nord Stream pipelines, recalled that Security Council resolution 2341 (2017) emphasizes the need for international cooperation to protect critical infrastructure. “Sabotage against transboundary energy infrastructure is a grave threat to international energy security. When such acts occur, it is vital that competent national authorities investigate,” he said, emphasizing that such investigations should be thorough and fact-based. While welcoming submissions to the Council on 21 February and 10 July by Denmark, Germany and Sweden, he called for further updates as the investigations move forward. He further stressed the need for international coordination and cooperation, and hoped that the perpetrators will eventually be identified and brought to account.
PEDRO COMISSÁRIO AFONSO (Mozambique) recalled that during his country’s presidency of the Council in March, attempts were made to establish an independent investigation under the auspices of the Secretary-General. Instead, it was decided that an independent investigation was premature and could interfere with national investigations already underway, he added, underlining that Mozambique supported a speedy end to those efforts. Despite consensus that the bombing of the Nord Stream pipeline was indeed sabotage, the international community is no closer to the truth and the findings of the ongoing investigations must be brought to light urgently. “Let us not forget the consequences of impunity. It not only emboldens those who perpetrate such acts, but also weakens the very foundation of international cooperation,” he said.
JOHN KELLEY (United States), voicing regret that the Russian Federation was calling repetitive meetings on the topic despite the many other pressing issues on the Council’s agenda, reiterated his concern over the sabotage of the Nord Stream pipelines that took place in September 2022. He voiced confidence in the thoroughness and impartiality of the ongoing investigations by Denmark, Germany and Sweden, noting that the attacks occurred in the maritime zones of Denmark Sweden. The Russian Federation is calling for an impartial investigation, but at the same time it is attempting prematurely to place the blame on certain countries. Therefore, it is not surprising that it selectively promotes narratives that comport with its preordained conclusion. He called on the Council to disregard such accusations and speculation and to allow the countries concerned to conclude their work. The Russian Federation’s “disingenuous remarks” are an attempt to undermine the ongoing investigations to prejudice their results, he added.
NICOLAS DE RIVIÈRE (France) asked why the Russian Federation requested a fourth Council meeting on this topic, given that no new or credible element has emerged. That country demonstrates so much concern about attacks on European infrastructure, yet continues to inflict massive destruction every day on Ukraine. At the same time, it is seeking to distract the Council and fuel speculation about responsibility for the sabotage of the Nord Stream pipelines. There is no reason to doubt the seriousness and impartiality of the German, Danish and Swedish investigations, which should continue without political interference, he said.
KHALILAH HACKMAN (Ghana), noting that there is unity among Council members to uncover the facts surrounding the sabotage of the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines, underscored the need for concerted global efforts to pre-empt and mitigate such actions. Supporting the Council’s continued interest in unravelling the facts, she said that differing views among its members do not affect the united position express in previous meetings. Ghana supports the ongoing investigations as key to ensuring accountability, she said, emphasizing also the need for multiparty cooperation, open and transparent engagement by parties, and the need for a specified timeframe for concluding the investigations.
ALBANA DAUTLLARI (Albania), Council President for September, noting the Council’s previous meetings on this issue, said that the same positions are being repeated because there is nothing new on the matter. “Many briefers of different profiles have tried to explain what they don’t know and what we still don’t know.” Describing the apparent act of sabotage as unacceptable, she reiterated Albania’s full support for the investigations initiated by Denmark, Germany and Sweden. Those three States have strong judicial institutions and unquestionable records of the rule of law, she said, adding: “We should be patient and wait for the ongoing investigations’ conclusions.”
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