The United States has discovered a spy balloon over its northwest territory. The Pentagon suspects that the surveillance hardware belonged to the People’s Republic of China (PRC), an official disclosed.
The discovery comes days before Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken’s visit to Beijing.
Although China has deployed surveillance balloons to the United States before, according to claims by the official, this particular balloon appeared to have been over the nation for a longer period of time.
A senior administration official also told the New York Times anonymously that the said balloon did not constitute a military or physical threat and had little value in gathering intelligence.
According to a second defence official, the Pentagon did not believe the balloon provided China with any further information beyond what it could get from satellite photos. The source further said President Joe Biden decided not to shoot down the balloon for the time being after receiving advice from Pentagon officials that doing so may increase the chance that flying debris would hit people on the ground.
According to the Pentagon, the balloon flew from China through the Aleutian Islands in Alaska during the past few days, passing via northwest Canada, before settling somewhere over Montana, where it was hovering on Wednesday.
The North American Aerospace Defense Command, a part of the U.S.-Canada military alliance, said in a brief statement late on Thursday that it was actively tracking the movements of a high-altitude surveillance balloon. The statement added that Canada’s intelligence services were cooperating with their American counterparts to “take all necessary measures to protect Canada’s sensitive information from foreign intelligence threats.”
“Canadians are safe, and Canada is taking steps to ensure the security of its airspace, including the monitoring of a potential second incident,” the statement said, without elaborating.
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