The US government has so far seen no evidence of a connection to Chinese espionage after the downing of three mysterious flying objects. White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters Tuesday there was nothing to suggest the objects were part of China's "spy balloon program" or that they were "definitely" used for foreign espionage.
The objects launched over the US and Canada could be "balloons that were simply attached to commercial or research facilities and were therefore harmless," Kirby said. This may turn out to be the "leading explanation".
However, the objects that were shot down have not yet been recovered. "We haven't found her yet," Kirby said. He justified this with the "rather harsh" meteorological and geographical conditions on site.
At the end of last week, US fighter jets shot down three flying objects over the US state of Alaska, over Canada and over Lake Huron on the US-Canada border. The US military's operations followed the downing of a suspected Chinese spy balloon over the US east coast on February 4.
Weather and geographic conditions made finding the debris difficult. One of the objects had crashed into sea ice off Alaska, another is at the bottom of Lake Huron. US Chief of Staff Mark Milley admitted on Tuesday that the first missile fired over Lake Huron on Sunday missed its target. "Yes, the first shot missed," said Milley at a press conference in Brussels.
The White House now also provided an explanation for the shooting down in a short time. The North American Air Defense Command Norad adjusted the radar systems after the incident with the suspected Chinese spy balloon, said communications director Kirby. The systems' sensitivity has been increased to identify more objects that are slow, small and flying high.
China has denied it was a spy balloon. The government in Beijing speaks of a drifted weather balloon. The USA firmly rejects this account. Recently, US forces were able to recover a sensor and electronic parts from the downed balloon from the Atlantic.
Amid the tense mood between Beijing and Washington, there have been rumors of a possible meeting between China's top foreign policy leader Wang Yi and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference, which begins on Friday. China did not confirm such a gathering.