The three unknown objects shot down over the skies of the US and Canada by the US Air Force over the past week probably had nothing to do with an espionage program by China or any other country. That is what President Biden said at a press conference about the objects.
The objects were shot down at a great height, about a week after a Chinese balloon was shot down. According to the US, that balloon came from China and was intended for espionage.
That was not the case with the three other objects, Biden now says. It was probably balloons. “Security officials determined that these three balloons were likely associated with businesses, recreation, or institutions that study weather or other scientific research,” the president said.
A White House spokesman said Tuesday that there was no indication that the flying objects were part of a Chinese espionage program.
Biden’s decision to have the balloons shot down was due to the danger they posed to air traffic and because he could not rule out the “risk of observing facilities” at the time. In one case, he made that decision in consultation with Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau, because one of the balloons was shot down over Canadian airspace.
The president stressed that there is no sudden increase in unknown objects in the sky. “We’re just seeing more now, in part because of the steps we’ve taken to improve our radar installations.”
Biden has instructed his administration to come up with clear rules for dealing with unknown flying objects in the future. A distinction must be made between objects that do or do not pose a safety risk.
The president has already announced four measures. The US authorities must make a better inventory of what unmanned objects fly through the airspace and ensure that this data is also accessible and updated.
Biden also wants to improve the possibilities for detecting the objects and new rules must be introduced for bringing unmanned objects into the air over the US. Furthermore, Minister of Foreign Affairs Blinken will lead an effort to set global standards “in this largely unregulated airspace”.
“These steps should lead to a safer airspace for our airline passengers, our military, our scientists, and also for people on the ground,” Biden said.
He reiterated that the first object downed, which the US claimed was a Chinese spy balloon, was only shot down over the sea because of its enormous size.
China denies that the balloon was intended for espionage. Biden said he plans to discuss the incident with Chinese leader Xi Jinping in the future. “We want to compete with China, not conflict. We are not looking for another Cold War,” Biden said. “But I’m not going to apologize and we’ll stay competitive.”
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