Biden says last three flying objects were likely tied to private companies, recreation or research
President Biden sought to allay any concerns and fears about the recent spate of unidentified flying objects, saying there is no evidence the latest three aerial objects shot down are related to the surveillance operations of a foreign nation.
“We don’t yet know exactly what these three objects were,” Mr. Biden said. “But nothing right now suggests they were related to China’s spy balloon program or that they were surveillance vehicles from … any other country. The intelligence community’s current assessment is that these three objects were mostly balloons tied to private companies, recreation or research institutions studying weather or conducting other scientific research.”
The president also sought to send the message that the U.S. is not looking for a new Cold War with China, and he said that he expects to be speaking with Chinese President Xi Jinping, though he did not say when a conversation with Xi would take place. Nonetheless, Mr. Biden also said he made no apologies for taking down the spy balloon.
The president’s remarks from the White House came as the administration continues to work on identifying the nature and origin of multiple objects the Pentagon has shot down over North American airspace this month. An earlier object, shot down off the coast of South Carolina, was determined to be a Chinese spy balloon, and part of what the Biden administration says is part of a larger surveillance operation. The administration is still searching for three subsequent objects shot down over U.S. and Canadian airspace this month. But Mr. Biden said “nothing” at this point suggests these later objects are related to Chinese surveillance operations or any other country’s surveillance operations.
Mr. Biden noted part of the reason why the U.S. is observing more of these objects is because the military recently increased the sensitivity of its radars.
“We don’t have any evidence that there has been a sudden increase in the number of objects in the sky,” the president said. “We’re now just seeing more of them partially because [of] the steps we’ve taken to increase our radars, to narrow our radars. And we have to keep adapting our approach to dealing with these challenges.”
The president has created a new interagency group to determine a strategy moving forward on how to handle such aerial objects. But the president emphasized Thursday that won’t hesitate to take down aerial objects that pose a threat.
“Make no mistake,” Mr. Biden said. “If any object presents a threat to the safety and security of the American people, I will take it down.”
Pentagon officials this week said the Navy is expected to wrap up the search for remnants of the Chinese spy balloon off the coast of South Carolina on Thursday. Parts of the balloon and its payload, including a 30- to 40-foot antenna array, have been recovered, the officials said.
U.S. intelligence officials were tracking the spy balloon since it lifted off from the south coast of China, U.S. officials said Tuesday. After takeoff, the spy balloon drifted east in the direction of Guam and Hawaii and then went north to Alaska and entered U.S. airspace on Jan. 28, according to those officials. Given the path, it’s possible that the balloon was blown off course by weather, but U.S. officials said that once it crossed south over the continental United States, it was under China’s control.
The White House announced earlier this week it is putting together an interagency team to study the “unidentified aerial phenomena” and figure out how to handle them. The White House has said that the objects aren’t indications of alien or extraterrestrial activity.
The Biden administration has been briefing members of Congress on the UFOs, and members of both parties have demanded transparency and answers.
— David Martin contributed to this report
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