Biden to speak on suspected spy balloon and three flying objects shot down

Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz

(WASHINGTON) — President Joe Biden will speak at 2 p.m. ET on Thursday about the country’s “response” to four aerial objects that have been shot down in recent weeks, according to the White House.

Biden has faced growing pressure from Republicans and Democrats to address the nation on the suspected Chinese spy balloon and the three other unidentified objects that were shot down in North American airspace beginning earlier this month.

His remarks on Thursday will be the first time he’s commented extensively on the issue.

According to the White House, Biden will address “the United States’ response to recent aerial objects” in a formal speech from the South Court Auditorium.

“That includes our decisive response to China’s high-altitude surveillance balloon and the president putting the safety and security of the American people always first,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters at the daily briefing.

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The balloon that traversed the continental U.S. between Jan. 28 and Feb. 4 added tension to the already fraught U.S.-China relationship. Biden was criticized by Republicans for not taking action to shoot the balloon down earlier, though he said he ordered it be taken down as soon as possible but his military advisers said it was too risky to do over land.

Since then, three unidentified aerial objects were downed by the U.S. military over three successive days — one over Alaska, one over Canada and the third over Lake Huron in Michigan.

The administration has yet to confirm what those objects were or where they came from, though White House spokesperson John Kirby said earlier this week a “leading explanation” within the intelligence community is that the objects may have been for commercial or benign use.

An interagency review has been underway “to study the broader policy implications for detection, analysis, and disposition of unidentified aerial objects that pose either safety or security risks,” Kirby said Monday.

“They are continuing to work intensively to put forward parameters … that work is continuing but you will hear from the president and he will give an update on what has occurred over the last several days,” Jean-Pierre said Thursday of the interagency review. She had previously said their work was expected to be done by the end of the week.

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