The Pentagon said Thursday that it was tracking a Chinese spy balloon flying high over the United States that appeared to be surveilling highly sensitive nuclear weapons sites.
At President Joe Biden’s request, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and top military officials considered shooting the balloon down but decided doing so would endanger too many people on the ground, a senior defense official told reporters.
Then the sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up, so that the way of the kings from the east might be prepared.” Rev. 16:12
The official said the balloon flew over the US northwest where there are sensitive airbases and strategic missiles in silos underground.
“Clearly, the intent of this balloon is for surveillance, and the current flight path does carry it over a number of sensitive sites,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
But the Pentagon did not believe it constitutes a particularly dangerous intelligence threat.
“We assess that this balloon has limited additive value from an intelligence collection perspective,” the official said.
The balloon entered US airspace “a couple days ago,” the official said, adding that US intelligence had been tracking it well before that.
After Biden asked about the options for dealing with it, on Wednesday Austin, who was in the Philippines, held discussions with top Pentagon officials.
Fighter jets were flown to examine the balloon while it was above Montana as discussions took place.
‘Seriousness’ of issue
But the Pentagon decision was “not to take kinetic action due to the risk to safety and security of people on the ground from the possible debris field,” the official said.
Pentagon spokesman Pat Ryder confirmed the balloon was still being tracked over US airspace.
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