President Joe Biden made his first extensive remarks on the discovery and shootdown of three unidentified aerial objects in separate incidents on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Biden said that, as the debris from the objects is being recovered, “we don’t know yet exactly what these three objects were.”
“But nothing right now suggests they were related to China’s spy balloon program. or they were surveillance vehicles from any other country,” Biden said. “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.”
Biden also said that “we don’t have any evidence that there has been a sudden increase in the number of objects in the sky. We are now just seeing more of them partially because of the steps we’ve taken to increase our radar system.”
The three objects were discovered above Alaska, Canada and then Lake Huron, triggering intense speculation in the aftermath of the earlier sighting of a Chinese spy balloon. Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said earlier this week there was no evidence that the objects were extraterrestrial. That object floated over the continental United States until it was shot down by the U.S. military off the coast of South Carolina.
Biden said that he ordered that the latest three objects be shot down due to the hazards they posed to commercial air travel.
He also said that he expected to speak to Chinese President Xi Jinping about the Chinese balloon.
“We’re not looking for a new Cold War, but I make no apologies and we will compete, and we will responsibly manage that competition so that it doesn’t veer into conflict,” Biden said.
The president defended the decision to not shoot down the Chinese balloon while it floated over land. “Because we knew its path, we were able to protect sensitive sites against collection,” he said. “We waited until it was safely over water, which would not only protect civilians, but allow us to collect substantial components for further analytics.”
At the end of his remarks, Biden listened as reporters shouted a barrage of questions at him. One reporter could be heard asking whether his family’s business relationships compromised his response to the China balloon. “Give me a break, man,” Biden said. He stood for a few moments before telling reporters, “Come to my office and ask the question when we have more polite people.”
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