An investigation by the UN Security Council into the explosions that blew up the Nord Stream natural gas pipelines in September 2022 is a high global priority, said Jeffrey Sachs, a world-renowned economist, on Tuesday.
“The destruction of the Nord Stream pipelines on Sept. 26, 2022, constitutes an act of international terrorism and represents a threat to the peace,” Sachs told the Security Council in a briefing.
“It is the responsibility of the UN Security Council to take up the question of who might have carried out the act in order to bring the perpetrator to international justice, to pursue compensation for the damage parties, and to prevent future such actions,” he said.
The consequences of the destruction of the Nord Stream pipelines that linked Russia and Germany are enormous. They include not only the vast economic losses related to the pipelines themselves and their future potential use, but also the heightened threat to transboundary infrastructure of all kinds — submarine internet cables, international pipelines for gas and hydrogen, transboundary power transmission, offshore wind farms and more, said Sachs, who is the director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University.
“The global transformation to green energy will require considerable transboundary infrastructure, including in international waters. Countries need to have full confidence that their infrastructure will not be destroyed by third parties. Some European countries have recently expressed concern over the safety of their offshore infrastructure,” he noted.
There is only one detailed account to date of the Nord Stream destruction — the one recently put forward by U.S. investigative journalist Seymour Hersh ostensibly based on information leaked to Hersh by an unnamed source, said Sachs.
Hersh attributes the Nord Stream destruction to a decision ordered by U.S. President Joe Biden and carried out by U.S. agents in a covert operation. The White House has described Hersh’s account as “completely and utterly false,” but did not offer any information contradicting Hersh’s account, and did not offer any alternative explanation, he said.
Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and some other senior U.S. officials made statements before and after the Nord Stream destruction that showed the U.S. animus toward the pipelines, he noted.
The destruction of the Nord Stream pipelines required a very high degree of planning, expertise, and technological capacity, he said, adding that as a number of senior officials have publicly confirmed, an action of this sort must have been carried out by a state-level actor.
Only a handful of state-level actors have both the technical capacity and access to the Baltic Sea to have carried out this action. They include the United States, Russia, Britain, Poland, Norway, Germany, Denmark, and Sweden — either individually or in some combination.
A recent report by The Washington Post revealed that the intelligence agencies of NATO countries have privately concluded that there is no evidence whatsoever that Russia carried out this action. It is also in concord with the fact that Russia had no obvious motive to carry out this act of terrorism on its own critical infrastructure. Indeed, Russia is likely to bear considerable expenses to repair the pipelines, said Sachs.
Three countries have reportedly carried out investigations of the Nord Stream terrorism — Denmark, Germany, and Sweden. These countries presumably know much more about the circumstances of the terrorist attack. Sweden, in particular, has perhaps the most to tell the world about the crime scene, which its divers investigated. Yet instead of sharing this information globally, Sweden has kept the results of its investigation secret from the rest of the world. Sweden has refused to share its findings with Russia and turned down a joint investigation with Denmark and Germany, he said.
“In the interests of global peace, the UN Security Council should require these countries to immediately turn over the results of their investigations to the UN Security Council,” Sachs said.