The US Department of Defense said the Chinese spy balloon was heading east but posed “no physical or military threat” to civilians.
The Pentagon’s press secretary did not confirm the current location of the balloon, which operates at around 60,000 feet.
There is also no evidence of nuclear or radioactive material on board, but it has the ability to be maneuvered, according to Brigadier General Pat Ryder.
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He also rejected Chinese claims the balloon was actually a “civilian airship” that had strayed into US airspace.
US authorities said they now know of the object – spotted above Billings, Montana, On Wednesday, near one of three US nuclear missile silo fields at Malmstrom Air Force Base – was a Chinese balloon flying over sensitive sites to gather information.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has postponed a high-level visit to China that was due to start on Sunday.
Senior State Department officials described the incident as a ‘clear violation of US sovereignty and international law’ and said the conditions were ‘not right at this time’ for Mr Blinken to travel .
Mr Blinken was ready to leave for China this evening before the trip was postponed, according to Sky News.
He plans to travel “when conditions permit”, according to officials.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in beijing admitted the balloon was from China – but said it was intended for meteorological research and other scientific research.
The Pentagon spokesman said it was “monitoring the situation closely and will continue to review options.”
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The balloon will likely remain over the United States for a few days, the spokesperson added.
US officials also confirmed that military intelligence had seen similar surveillance balloons elsewhere.
The object is believed to have flown over the Aleutian Islands, off the coast of Alaskaand through Canada before entering the United States.
Military and defense leaders had considered firing the balloon from the sky, but decided against it due to the security risk of falling debris.
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin convened a meeting of senior military and defense officials to review the balloon’s threat profile and possible responses, which were presented to the US President. Joe Biden Wednesday.
President Biden, speaking at a White House jobs conference earlier today, declined to answer questions on the matter.
The United States contacted Chinese officials “urgently” and expressed the seriousness of the situation.
China and the United States have seen tensions lately, clashing over Taiwan’s and China’s human rights record and its military activity in the South China Sea.