World Desk, Delhi Magazine: Washington partially reveals his hand. Footage captured by US military planes shows that the Chinese balloon that flew over the United States last week was well equipped with spy tools, and not intended for weather as Beijing claims , officials said Thursday. Americans.
Snapshots taken by U-2 spy planes indicate the balloon hardware “was clearly made for spy observation purposes, and doesn’t fit well with weather balloon equipment,” a senior official said. official of the US State Department, on condition of anonymity.
The Commerce Department announced a new round of sanctions Friday targeting six Chinese aerospace companies that it identified as supporting the nation’s military’s reconnaissance balloon program.
“It had many antennas, a set probably capable of collecting and geo-locating communications,” he added in a statement. The balloon “was equipped with solar panels large enough to provide the energy necessary to operate multiple sensors collecting intelligence”, he further specified.
A “small part” of the recovered surveillance equipment
Washington on Saturday shot down a balloon off its Atlantic coast that had flown over sensitive military sites and had been described by Beijing as a “civilian aircraft used for research purposes, mainly meteorological”. This diplomatic clash had led the head of American diplomacy Antony Blinken to postpone a rare visit to China.
The American authorities are still busy collecting the debris from the balloon in the Atlantic, near the coast of South Carolina. An FBI official, who is in charge of examining them, said that only a “small part” of the surveillance equipment had been recovered.
“The exhibits that were recovered and brought to the FBI are very limited,” he said, adding that they are being examined at federal police labs in Quantico, Virginia. What has been recovered so far was floating on the surface of the ocean, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Most of the equipment, including the large solar panels, sank to a depth of 14 meters when the balloon was shot down on Saturday.
The FBI did not specify whether these parts had been located but warned that bad weather could hamper their recovery.
A fleet that has flown over 40 countries
The United States believes the balloon was controlled by the Chinese military and was part of a fleet sent by Beijing over more than 40 countries on five continents for espionage purposes.
“We are convinced that the manufacturer of the balloon has a direct link with the Chinese military,” added the senior State Department official. He indicated that Washington was weighing possible measures against Chinese entities linked to the ball – which could indicate possible sanctions to come.
During a congressional hearing, a Pentagon official defended the US military’s decision not to shoot down the balloon off Alaska as soon as it entered US airspace. January 28.
It would have been much more difficult and “extremely dangerous” to recover it in the icy waters of the North Pacific, more than 5,000 meters deep, noted Melissa Dalton, in charge of North America at the Ministry of Defense. “We continuously monitored and evaluated it, and we learned more about China’s spying capabilities and techniques,” she said.
The elected members of the American House of Representatives have also unanimously denounced “the use by the Chinese Communist Party of a spy balloon”, considering that it is a “shameless violation of the sovereignty of States -United “.
China also confirmed Thursday that it declined a phone call from Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin on Saturday, shortly after the balloon was destroyed. “This irresponsible and seriously erroneous act has not created a climate conducive to dialogue and exchanges between the two armies”, justified the Chinese Ministry of Defense in a press release.