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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Biden suggests the latest objects shot down by the US military were not for surveillance

President Joe Biden delivers remarks about the Chinese spy balloon and other aerial objects shot down over North America in recent days, at the White House in Washington on Thursday, Feb. 16, 2023.

By Peter Baker

President Joe Biden on Thursday said intelligence agencies have no indication that three objects shot down over North America in recent days were surveillance craft from China or any other power but vowed to establish new parameters to guard American airspace.

The latest objects appeared unrelated to the Chinese spy balloon that was downed Feb. 4 but, instead, were probably tied to private companies or research institutions, Biden said. Nonetheless, he announced that he expects to speak soon with Chinese President Xi Jinping to lodge his objections to the original balloon’s violation of U.S. airspace.

Biden’s televised statement from the White House was his first extended effort to address the furor over perceived possible threats in the sky since U.S. fighter jets fired missiles at objects over Alaska, Canada and Lake Huron over the past week. American authorities were still trying to recover the debris from those objects, but Biden said they did not appear to pose a surveillance danger to the United States.

“We don’t yet know 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.

Here’s what else you need to know:

— Biden said his administration is developing new parameters to guide how to respond to unidentified aerial objects, to improve measures to detect them and to update rules and regulations governing the launching of uncrewed craft.

— Secretary of State Antony Blinken will work with other nations to create common global norms for the largely unregulated high atmosphere.

— Biden said there is no evidence “that there has been a sudden increase in the number of objects in the sky.” Instead, he said, U.S. authorities have been more attuned to detecting them after radar changes instituted after the Chinese balloon was spotted over the continental United States.

— Biden rejected criticism of his handling of the spy balloon. “I hope we’re going to get to the bottom of this,” he said. “But I make no apologies for taking down that balloon.”

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