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Envoy calls for active UN role in Nord Stream probe

By MINLU ZHANG at the United Nations | China Daily | Updated: 2023-02-23 06:48

FILE PHOTO: Pipes at the landfall facilities of the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline are pictured in Lubmin, Germany, March 8, 2022. [Photo/Agencies]

A Chinese envoy to the United Nations said on Tuesday more evidence shows that the destruction of the Nord Stream pipelines was "intentional", and urged the UN to take an active role in safeguarding the security of cross-border infrastructure.

"As the most authoritative and representative international institution, the United Nations can play an active and constructive role in conducting international investigations and ensuring the security of transnational infrastructure," Zhang Jun, China's permanent representative to the UN, said at a UN Security Council meeting.

"More and more evidence shows that the destruction of the Nord Stream pipelines was not accidental, but intentional. From the standpoint of physical conditions, it is hard to imagine that nonstate actors are capable of such disruption alone," he said.

At a meeting held by the Security Council in September last year, many countries called for an investigation into the incident "to restore the truth and identify those responsible", Zhang said, adding that China's position was the same. "China supports speeding up the investigation process and finding out the truth as soon as possible."

In the context of globalization, Zhang said, countries are increasingly cooperating in the fields of energy, transportation and communications, and the construction of transnational infrastructure spreads across continents and oceans. "Any deliberate act of sabotaging transnational infrastructure is malicious," he emphasized.

The envoy said that if the cause of the damage to the Nord Stream pipelines and the people responsible for the same were not identified, it would send "a wrong signal", making those who intended to do such things think that they could do whatever they wanted.

"Conducting an objective, impartial and professional investigation into this matter, releasing the investigation results as soon as possible and pursuing relevant responsibilities are not only related to the incident itself, but also related to the security of global transnational infrastructure and... interests and concerns of every country," Zhang said.

American economist Jeffrey Sachs and former CIA analyst Ray McGovern also briefed the Security Council at Tuesday's meeting.

"The destruction of the Nord Stream pipelines required a very high degree of planning, expertise and technological capacity," said Sachs, director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University.

A number of senior officials have publicly confirmed that an action of this magnitude must have been carried out by a state-level actor, Sachs said.

"Only a handful of state-level actors have both the technical capacity and access to the Baltic Sea. To have carried out this action, (potential nations) include the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, Poland, Norway, Germany, Denmark and Sweden, either individually or in some combination. Ukraine lacks necessary technologies as well as access to the Baltic Sea," he said.

Sachs then excluded Russia. "A recent report by The Washington Post revealed that the intelligence agencies of the NATO members have privately concluded that there is no evidence whatsoever that Russia carried out this action," he said. "Russia had no obvious motive to carry out this active terrorism on its own critical infrastructure. Indeed, Russia is likely to bear considerable expenses to repair the pipelines."

He noted that Pulitzer Prizewinning investigative journalist Seymour Hersh published his investigation on Feb 8 that says the US partnered with Norway in June 2022 to plant remotely triggered explosives that took out three of the four Nord Stream pipelines.

"I hope that the United States, together with all other Security Council members will condemn this act of international terrorism and join ... an urgent Security Council-led investigation of this international crime in order to determine the truth," Sachs said.

McGovern cited a comment about Hersh that he "attracts whistleblowers because he has a perfect record of protecting their identities and accurately publishing what they reveal after due diligence, despite the government denials and slanderous attacks that invariably follow".

Zhang said the two speakers "reported important information and sound analysis", and that China looks forward to convincing explanations from relevant parties. "Such a request is perfectly legal and reasonable," he added.

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