President Joe Biden said Thursday he made no apologies for shooting down a Chinese spy balloon but admitted three other mysterious aerial objects, destroyed by U.S. warplanes, were not thought to be surveillance vehicles.
He finally broke his silence after more than a week of questions about a spate of apparent incursions into American airspace.
But he abruptly left the stage at the end of his remarks when a reporter demanded to know whether his family’s business interests got in the way of dealing with China.
He said there was no evidence of a surge, just that officials were now looking harder for aerial craft.
‘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.’
President Joe Biden said there was no evidence of a surge in mysterious balloons, when he addressed the nation on Wednesday. ‘We’re now just seeing more of them,’ he said
Since February 4, four objects have been shot down including the Chinese spy balloon, and then three ‘UFOs’
Biden came under intense criticism for allowing the balloon to fly all across the U.S. before giving the order to shoot it down once it was off the coast of South Carolina on Feb. 4.
A US official said on Wednesday that it was thought to have been intended for airspace over Guam and Hawaii but got blown off course.
Three further mystery craft have been shot down since the first balloon was spotted.
Biden has been criticized ever since for not addressing the nation at a time when warplanes were being scrambled to intercept mysterious aerial invaders.
On Thursday, he defended waiting to take down the spy balloon.
‘Because we knew its path, we were able to protect sensitive sites against collection,’ he said.
‘We waited until it was safely over water, which would not only protect civilians, but also enable us to recover substantial components for further analysts for further analytics.
‘And then we shot it down, sending a clear message. The violation of our sovereignty is unacceptable.’
The suspected Chinese spy balloon drifts to the ocean after being shot down off the coast in Surfside Beach, South Carolina, U.S. February 4, 2023
The balloon shot down off South Carolina is being recovered, but the remote conditions the other three objects were shot down in has made their retrieval more difficult
After delivering his prepared remarks, the president lingered on stage ready to take questions.
Are you compromised by your family’s business relations with China, shouted one reporter.
‘Give me a break, man,’ said Biden, whose son Hunter’s companies have made deals in China.’
As other reporters shouted their questions, Biden called a halt, apparently inviting one to come for a private interview.
‘You can come to my office and ask the question when we have more polite people,’ he said.
Officials have said all week that they cannot be sure of their mystery objects’ origins or purpose.
A White House spokesman admitted that they may have been ‘commercial’ or ‘benign’ in purpose.
The result is growing suspicion that the first balloon tapped into paranoia about China, leading to a trigger happy response once officials increased their scrutiny of the skies.
The president said he had directed National Security Sdviser Jake Sullivan to lead an interagency team to review procedures
He said the aim was a system that would help distinguish between objects that posed a safety or security risk and those that do not.
‘Make no mistake, if any object presents a threat to the safety and security of the American people I will take it down,’ he added.
Defense officials gave lawmakers classified briefings on Capitol Hill this week.
One told DailyMail.com that the recent spate of sightings was the result of more eyes looking for suspicious objects and there were worries the U.S. Air Force had been shooting down junk — such as old weather balloons that were no longer transmitting data.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was quizzed on Tuesday about why the president had not already addressed the issue.
She defended his handling of the apparent incursions and said officials were sharing as much information as possible.
‘But again, you know, we want to also make sure that the Americans do not panic during this time,’ she said.