The Pentagon is tracking the movements of a Chinese spy balloon flying high above U.S. territory, a senior U.S. defense official said Thursday.

Eva Deschamps / February 3, 2023

At the request of President Joe Biden, the Pentagon examined the possibility of shooting it down but the decision was made not to do so because of the potential risks posed by the debris to people on the ground, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.


We are taking steps to protect against the collection of sensitive information," he said, while emphasizing the "limited added value in terms of information collection" of the device described as a balloon of a fairly large size.


We considered that it was large enough that the debris could cause damage" if it had been shot down in a populated area, according to the same source.


Pentagon spokesman Pat Ryder said the U.S. and Canadian Aerospace Defense Command (Norad) was monitoring the balloon's movements, but it does not pose a "military or physical risk to people on the ground. »


Clearly, this balloon is intended for surveillance and its current trajectory takes it over sensitive sites" including nuclear silos, continued the first U.S. official, referring to the state of Montana in the western United States.


The balloon entered U.S. airspace "several days ago" but U.S. intelligence had been monitoring it since before, the same source said, adding that this is not the first time the U.S. military has seen such an intrusion.

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