President Biden addressed the nation Thursday about a series of unidentified flying objects that were shot down by U.S. fighter jets in recent days.
“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. We acted in consultation with the Canadian government. I spoke firstly with prime minister Trudeau,” Biden said Thursday.
Biden suggested the newest objects were not part of a foreign spying program. “The three objects are most likely balloons tied to private companies, recreation or research institutions, studying weather or conducting other scientific research,” he said.
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On Feb. 4, a Chinese spy balloon was shot down off the coast of South Carolina after drifting across the U.S. for 96 hours. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken scrapped a long-planned trip to China over the episode, further straining an already fraught relationship between the two superpowers.
“I make no apologies for taking down that balloon,” said Biden.
U.S. fighter jets shot down a trio of unidentified aerial objects a week later: one near Alaska’s northern coastline last Friday, another over Canada’s Yukon region on Saturday and a third over Michigan’s Upper Peninsula off of Lake Huron on Sunday.
The number of objects hovering above North America raised alarm about a potential national security threat, but Pentagon and White House officials emphasized the vessels were markedly different in appearance and technological capabilities from the Chinese surveillance balloon.
Salvage crews are still working to recover whatever remains of the objects, which National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said has been difficult because of winter weather conditions and the remote, rough terrain where the debris landed.
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