The US and Canada are Tracking Suspected Chinese Surveillance Balloons
The United States is tracking a suspected Chinese surveillance balloon that has been spotted floating in American airspace for several days, but the Pentagon has decided not to shoot it down due to the risk to people on the ground, BTA reported.
A senior defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told reporters at the Pentagon that the US believed with a "high degree of certainty" that it was a Chinese high-altitude balloon that flew over sensitive sites to gather information. One of the places over which the balloon was spotted was the state of Montana, home to Malmstrom Air Force Base, one of three sites with nuclear missile silos in the country, the Associated Press reported, citing senior US officials.
Pentagon spokesman Patrick Ryder said that the North American Aerospace Command (NORAD) was monitoring the movement of the balloon, but stressed that it did not pose a "military or physical danger to people on the ground," according to AFP.
The Pentagon announced the balloon just days before an expected visit by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to China. It is unclear whether this will affect his travel plans, which the State Department has not officially announced, AP notes.
Canada's Ministry of Defense also said it had detected a high-altitude surveillance balloon. The movements of the second intercepted balloon are being actively monitored by NORAD, the statement added.
The message states that "Canadians are safe and Canada is taking steps to ensure the security of its airspace, including monitoring a potential second incident," BTA said.
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