The Stig wrote:
You're forgetting that Pike and Spock argue about what constitutes 'violating' the PD. Since Pike is mad at Kirk for falsifying a ship's log, the matter is dropped. But it seems clear that, in Pike's mind, any interference with Nibiru's natural processes constitutes a violation of the PD.
Kirk was in trouble no matter what the outcome of the Nibiru mission was. As soon as he and Spock committed to their interpretation of the PD, they ran afoul of Pike.
I'm not forgetting anything.
I simply believe that the intervention of the Enterprise on Niburu isn't what got Kirk yanked out of the Captain's chair. It was that he didn't take responsibility for the actions he ordered.
Because, as we've seen on other series installments, violating the Prime Directive with good intentions usually doesn't lead to a loss of command.