Three UFOs shot down by US were not spy balloons, says Biden

16 February 2023, 21:25 | Updated: 17 February 2023, 01:40

US president Joe Biden said the country was developing "sharper rules" to track, monitor and potentially shoot down unknown aerial objects
US president Joe Biden said the country was developing "sharper rules" to track, monitor and potentially shoot down unknown aerial objects. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

Three unidentified objects shot down by the US last week did not appear to be used for spying and instead were "likely" to be linked to private companies, US President Joe Biden has said.

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The president vowed to develop “sharper rules” to track, monitor and potentially shoot down unknown aerial objects after a Chinese spy balloon was tracked in American airspace.

He said he made no apology for protecting US skies but added: "We are not looking for a new Cold War with China."

"We don't yet know exactly what these three objects were, but nothing nothing right now suggests they were related to China's spy balloon programme, or they were surveillance vehicles from other any other country," he 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."

China has denied claims the balloon was surveillance, insisting it was instead an "out of control" weather balloon.

Read more: Chinese balloon sensor recovered from the ocean, US says, with hunt for others ongoing as Beijing denies spy claims

Read more: 'There is no indication of aliens': White House shoots down connection between UFOs and extra terrestrial activity

China threatens response after US shoots down spy balloon

The initial downing of the Chinese surveillance craft was the first known peacetime shooting down of an unauthorised object in US airspace - a feat repeated three times a week later.

Mr Biden sharply criticised China's surveillance programme, saying the "violation of our sovereignty is unacceptable", but said he looked to maintain open lines of communication with Beijing.

Secretary of State Anthony Blinken postponed his first planned trip to China as the balloon was flying over the US, and a new meeting with his Chinese counterpart has yet to be scheduled.

"I expect to be speaking with President Xi and I hope we can get to the bottom of this," Mr Biden said.

He said the rules would remain classified so as not to "give a roadmap to our enemies to try to evade our defences."

The Chinese balloon has escalated tensions between the US and China.

Mr Blinken travelled on Thursday to the Munich Security Conference and there was speculation he might use the opportunity to meet top Chinese foreign policy official Wang Yi, who will also be attending the conference.

Still unaddressed are questions about the original balloon, including what spying capabilities it had and whether it was transmitting signals as it flew over sensitive military sites in the United States.

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