(CNSNews.com) – The three unidentified flying objects that were shot down by the U.S. military last week were “most likely balloons tied to private companies, recreation or research institutions studying weather or conducting other scientific research,” according to the intel community’s assessment, President Biden said Thursday.
“Our military through the North American Aerospace Defense Command, so-called NORAD, closely scrutinized our airspace, including enhancing our radar to pick up more slow-moving objects above our country and around the world. In doing so, they tracked three unidentified objects, one in Alaska, Canada and over Lake Huron in the Midwest,” Biden said.
“They acted in accordance with established parameters to determine how to deal with unidentified aerial objects in U.S. airspace. At their recommendation, I gave the order to take down these three objects due to hazards to civilian commercial air traffic and because we could not rule out the surveillance risk of sensitive facilities,” he said.
The president said that in doing so, he acted in consultation with Canada “out of an abundance of caution that allowed us to take down these objects safely.”
The U.S. and Canadian military are trying to recover debris from the three objects, and the “intelligence community is still assessing all three incidents.” The president said he would report their findings to Congress.
We don’t yet know exactly what the three objects were, 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 most likely balloons tied to private companies, recreation or research institutions studying weather or conducting other scientific research.
When I came into office, I instructed our intelligence community to take a broad look at the phenomenon of unidentified aerial objects. We know that a range of entities including countries, companies and research organizations operate objects at altitudes for purposes that are not nefarious including legitimate scientific research.
I want to be clear. We don’t have any evidence that there’s been a sudden increase in the number of objects in the sky. We’re now just seeing more of them partially because of the steps we’ve taken to increase our radar, to narrow our radars, and we have to keep adapting our approach to dealing with these challenges.
That’s why I’ve directed my team to come back to me with sharper rules for how we will deal with these unidentified objects moving forward, distinguishing between those that are likely to pose safety and security risks that necessitate action and those that do not, but make no mistake, if any object presents a threat to the safety and security of the American people, I will take it down.
Biden said that he directed National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan “to lead a government-wide effort to make sure we’re positioned to deal safely and effectively with the objects in our airspace and make sure that inventory is accessible and up to date.”
“Second, we’ll implement further measures to improve our capacity to detect unmanned objects in our airspace. Third, we’ll update the rules and regulations for launching and maintaining unmanned objects in the skies above the United States of America,” he said.
Furthermore, Biden directed Secretary of State Antony Blinken to lead an effort to establish “common global norms in this largely unregulated space.”
These steps will lead to safer and more secure skies for our air travelers, our military, our scientists and for people on the ground as well. That’s my job as your president and commander in chief. As the events of the previous days have shown, we’ll always act to protect the interest of the American people and the security of the American people.
Since I came to office, we’ve developed the ability to identify, track and study high-altitude surveillance balloons connected with the Chinese military. When one of these high-altitude surveillance balloons entered our airspace over the continental United States earlier in the month, I gave the order to shoot it down as soon as it would be safe to do so.
The military advised against shooting it down over land because of the sheer size of it. It was the size of multiple school buses and had posed a risk to people on the ground if it was shot down where people lived. Instead, we tracked it closely. We analyzed its capabilities, and we learned more about how it operates.
Because we knew its path, we were able to protect sensitive sites against collection. We waited until it was safely over water, which would not only protect civilians but also enable us to recover substantial components for further analytics, and then we shot it down, sending a clear message — clear message, the violation of our sovereignty is unacceptable. We’ll act to protect our country and we did.
Now this past Friday we put restrictions on six firms that directly support the People’s Liberation Army Aerospace program. That includes airships and balloons, denying them access to U.S. technology. We briefed our diplomatic partners and our allies around the world, and we know about China’s program and where their balloons have flown.
Some of them have also raised their concerns directly with China. Our exports have lifted components of the Chinese balloon’s pay load off the ocean’s floor. We’re analyzing them as I speak, and what we learn will strengthen our capabilities. We’re also continuing to engage with China as we have throughout the past two weeks.
As I’ve said since the beginning of my administration, we seek competition, not conflict with China. We’re not looking for a new cold war, but I make no apologies and we will compete. We will responsibly manage that competition so that it doesn’t veer into conflict.
This episode underscores the importance of maintaining open lines of communication between our diplomats and our military professionals. Our diplomats will be engaging further, and I will remain in communication with President XI. I’m grateful for the work of the last several weeks of our intelligence, diplomatic and military professionals who have proved once again to be the most capable in the world.
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