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The announcement comes 12 days after the U.S. military shot down a Chinese spy balloon off the coast of South Carolina, and nearly a week after it intercepted and shot down three unknown objects in U.S. and Canadian airspace.
Biden said the United States was now detecting more objects than it had before because it used new intelligence to enhance how it uses radar to identify small and slow-moving aerial objects.
“Last week, in the immediate aftermath of the incursion by China’s high-altitude balloon, our military … closely scrutinized our airspace, including enhancing our radar to pick up more slow-moving objects,” Biden said during a Feb. 16 press conference.
“We don’t have any evidence that there has been a sudden increase in the number of objects in the sky,” he said. “We’re now just seeing more of them partially because [of] the steps we’ve taken to narrow our radars.”
The three objects shot down following the Chinese spy balloon were likely not related to China’s balloon program, Biden said. Instead, they could have been related to commercial or research institutions—though nothing is yet confirmed to that end.
“The intelligence community’s current assessment is that these three ones were most likely balloons tied to private companies, recreation or research institutions studying weather or conducting other scientific research,” he said.
Biden said the rules of engagement currently being developed would later be scaled and evolved to meet emerging threats if such was necessary.
“Going forward, these parameters will guide what actions we will take while responding to unmanned and unidentified aerial objects,” he said.
“We’re going to keep adapting them as the challenges evolve, if they evolve.”
Notably, Biden said that though his administration would brief Congress and U.S. allies on these rules of engagement, the exact parameters would remain classified to discourage adversaries from attempting to circumvent them.
That fact is expected to frustrate Congress, which has repeatedly condemned the administration’s refusal to be more transparent about the nature of the threat posed by UAPs and China.
Despite facing criticism for waiting a week to shoot down the Chinese spy balloon that traversed over the continental United States, Biden said that his administration would continue to seek normal relations with China’s communist regime.
“We’ll also continue to engage with China, as we have throughout the past two weeks,” Biden said.
“We seek competition, not conflict with China. We’re not looking for a new Cold War.”
To that end, Biden said that he was seeking to personally communicate with Chinese communist leader Xi Jinping and would keep all lines of communication open, while simultaneously preparing to shoot down future violations of U.S. airspace.
“If any object presents a threat to the safety and security of the American people, I will take it down,” Biden said.
“The violation of our sovereignty is unacceptable.”
By Andrew Thornebrooke