US spy attempt planned from China

Biden said he was not surprised by the ball incident. (TO FILE)


President Joe Biden on Monday defended the decision to wait for a Chinese balloon to cross the United States before shooting it down, and the White House said valuable intelligence was being extracted from the device.

China claims the balloon was an errant weather observation aircraft with no military purpose, but Washington has described it as a sophisticated high-altitude spy vehicle.

A US fighter jet shot down the balloon just off the eastern Atlantic coast on Saturday and naval and coast guard forces are currently recovering the wreckage for intelligence analysis.

“Once he came from Canada to the United States, I told the Department of Defense that I wanted to shoot him as soon as it was appropriate,” Biden told reporters.

“They concluded that we shouldn’t shoot it over land. It wasn’t a serious threat and we should wait for it to pass (over) water.”

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said US personnel “recovered remains from the sea surface”, although weather conditions did not permit underwater surveillance of the field. debris.

They “may in the next few days get down there and get a better look at what’s on the bottom of the ocean, but that’s just getting started,” Kirby said.

Steps were taken to ensure that the balloon’s instruments were “mitigated” in their ability to spy during the flyby, while “at the same time increasing and improving our ability to gather intelligence and information from it- here,” Kirby added.

“We are still analyzing the information we were able to gather on the ball before we launched it into the sky and now we are going to get it back and I think we could learn even more.”

Biden, who has been trying to establish more stability in relations with China, said he was not surprised by the ball incident.

“The issue of the balloon and the US espionage attempt is something that is anticipated from China,” he said.

“It’s not about trusting China, it’s about deciding where we can work together and where we have opposition.”

Huge balloon and payload

After slowly crossing the central United States, apparently over several top-secret military sites, the balloon headed for the east coast, where it was shot down.

General Glen VanHerck, head of US Northern Command, told reporters that a navy vessel is mapping the debris field, which is expected to measure around 1,500 meters by 1,500 meters (yards) out into the Atlantic. .

The balloon itself was up to 200 feet (60 meters) tall and carried a payload weighing several thousand pounds, roughly the size of a regional jet, he said.

According to Kirby, there was no intention of sending the parts back to China. “I don’t know of any intent or intent to return it,” he said.

And VanHerck said the debris from the balloon would be carefully investigated.

“I don’t know where the debris will go for final analysis, but I will tell you that the intelligence community as well as the law enforcement community who work in counterintelligence will take a look at it.” , did he declare. .

One detail already known, Kirby said, is that the balloon didn’t just drift, but had propellers and steering to give a measure of control, even if it was blown around by high-altitude jet winds.

“It is true that this balloon had the ability to maneuver, to accelerate, to slow down and to turn. So it had propellers, it had a rudder, if you will, to allow it to change direction”, said- he declared. .

(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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