Watch: Biden delivers remarks on unidentified aerial objects | NBC News


Recent Spate of high altitude objects shot down by the U.S military over North America a total of four have been brought down in the past two weeks but we really only know anything about the first one shot down February 4th and later recovered off the coast of South Carolina U.S officials say that was a Chinese spy balloon the Chinese say it.

Was a weather monitoring aircraft that drifted off course three other unidentified objects were then brought down since then one in the icy waters off Northwestern Alaska another in Canada's Yukon and a third in Lake Huron recovery missions for all those are underway but hampered by weather conditions and difficult terrain but.

Exactly what they are and where they came from remain a bit of a mystery let's go to our chief White House correspondent Kristen Welker right now Kristen the president has taken some dings from both sides of the aisle over transparent currency in all this he absolutely has Lester and these remarks come amid that mounting pressure for him.

To address the American people and to give some information about the Chinese spy balloon and those three unidentified objects and here is the president last week in the immediate aftermath of the incursion by China's high altitude balloon our military through the North American Aerospace Defense command so-called.

North NORAD closely scrutinized the our airspace including enhancing our radar to pick up more slow-moving objects above our country around the world in doing so they attract three unidentified objects one Alaska Canada and over Lake Huron in the Midwest they acted in accordance with.

Established parameters for determining how to deal with unidentified aerial objects in U.S airspace at third recommendation I gave the order to take down these three objects due to hazardous of Civilian commercial air traffic and because we could not rule out the surveillance risk of sensitive facilities.

We acted in consultation with the Canadian government I spoke firstly with prime minister Trudeau and Kant from Canada on Saturday and just as critically we acted out of an abundance of caution and an opportunity that allowed us to take down these these objects safely our military and the Canadian military.

Are seeking to recover the debris so we can learn more about these three objects our intelligence Community is still assessing all three incidences they're reporting to me daily and will continue their urgent efforts to do so and I will communicate that to the Congress we don't yet know exactly what these three objects were but nothing nothing.

Right now suggests they were related to China's spy balloon program or that there were surveillance vehicles from other any other country the intelligence community's current assessment is that these three objects were most likely balloons tied to private companies Recreation or research institutions studied weather or.

Conducting other scientific research when I came into office I instructed our intelligence Community to take a broad look at the phenomenon of unidentified aerial objects we know that a range of entities including countries companies and research organizations operate objects at altitudes for purposes that are not nefarious including legitimate.

Scientific research I want to be clear we don't have any evidence that there has been a sudden increase in the number of objects in the sky we're now just seeing more of them partially because the steps we've taken to increase our Radars to narrow our radars and we have to keep adapting our approach to uh delaying to dealing with these.

Challenges that's why I've directed my team to come back to me with sharper rules for how we will deal with these unidentified objects moving forward distinguishing distinguishing between those that are likely to pose Safety and Security risk that necessitate action and those that do not but make no mistake.

If any object presents a threat to the safety security of American people I will take it down I'll be sharing with Congress these classified policy parameters when they are completed and they'll remain classified so we don't give a road map to our enemies to try to evade our defenses.

Going forward these parameters will guide what actions will take while responding to unmanned and unidentified aerial objects we're going to keep adapting them as the challenges evolve if it evolves in addition we've derived direct to my National Security advisor to lead a government-wide effort to make sure we are positioned to deal safely.

And effectively with the objects in our airspace first we will establish a better inventory of unmanned Airborne objects in space above the United States airspace and make sure that inventory is accessible and up to date second we'll Implement further measures to improve our capacity to detect.

Unmanned objective objects in our airspace third we'll update the rules and regulations for launching and maintaining unmanned objects in the skies above the United States of America and fourth my secretary of state will lead an effort to help establish a global a global common Global norms and.

This largely unregulated space these steps will lead to safer and more secure skies for our air Travelers our military our scientists and for people on the ground as well that's my job as your president commander-in-chief as the events of the previous days have shown will always act to protect the.

Interest of the American people on the security of the American people since I came to office we've developed the ability to identify track and study high altitude surveillance balloons connected with the Chinese military when one of these high altitude surveillance balloons entered our airspace over the continental United.

States earlier in the month I gave the order to shoot it down as soon as it would be safe to do so the military advised again shooting it down over land because of the sheer size of it was the size of multiple school buses and opposed the risk to people on the ground if it was shot down where people lived instead we tracked it.

Closely we analyzed his capabilities and we learned more about how it operates and because we knew its path we were able to protect sensitive sites against collection we waited until it was safely over water which would not only protect civilians but also enable us to recover substantial components for further.

Analysts for for further Analytics and then we shot it down sending a clear message clear message the violation of our sovereignty is unacceptable we'll act to protect our country and we did now this past Friday we put restrictions on six firms that directly support the People's Republic Liberation Army.

People's people's Liberation Army Aerospace program that includes airships and balloons denying them access to U.S technology we briefed our diplomatic partners and our allies around the world and we know about China's program and where their balloons have flown some of them have also raised their.

Concerns directly with China our exports have lifted components of the Chinese balloon's payload off the ocean floor we're analyzing them as I speak and what we learn will strengthen our capabilities now we'll also continue to engage with China as we have throughout the past two.

Weeks as I've said since the beginning of my Administration we seek competition not conflict with China we're not looking for a new Cold War but I make no apologize I make no apologies and we will compete and we'll be will responsibly manage that competition so that it doesn't Veer into conflict this episode underscores the importance.

Of maintaining open lines of communication between our diplomats and our military professionals our diplomats will be engaging further and I will remain in communication with President XI I'm grateful for the work of the last several weeks of our intelligence diplomatic and Military professionals.

Who approve once again to be the most capable in the world and I want to thank you all now look the other thing I want to point out is that we are going to keep our allies and the Congress contemporaneously inform to all we know and all we learn and uh I expect to be speaking with President XI and I hope we have come we are going to get to.

The bottom of this but I make no apologies for taking down that balloon thank you very much sir the question sir there's been criticism there's been criticism that this was there's been criticism that this really trying to.

Compromise by your family's business relationship Sir Mr President Mr President there has been criticism Mr President there has been criticism that this was an overreaction that was done because of political pressure off and that's the question when you have more polite people Mr President why have you chosen Poland for your trip to.

Mark anniversary of the world president not in gay the president not engaging uh in in any answers or to the questions being shouted as he left the room there the president really providing more about what we don't know uh about or I'm sorry what we do know about those uh three most recent objects saying that they do.

Not appear to be part of the Chinese balloon program that they may very well likely be private in origin uh recreational or involved in some sort of research they are still trying to collect the debris from those three most recent they continue to the U.S continues to say that the Chinese were sponsors of that first balloon that.

First larger balloon that crisscrossed the United States our chief White House correspondent Kristen Welker joins me now Kristen one of the headlines came at the very end when the president said that he expects to speak with President XI this is significant because the president and the vice president have signaled that.

This incident and shooting down the Chinese spy balloon will not Mark a shift in relations with China you heard the president say that he wants the relationship between these two Global superpowers to be competitive but that this is not going to be a break so we'll continue to monitor that in terms of the other headlines it was very notable that.

He said those three objects that were shot down over the weekend they have now assessed are balloons that they believe were tied as you said to private companies potentially for meteorological purposes or research scientific purposes you also heard him talk about the fact that he has directed an interagency review to basically write up new rules.

Of the road to make the skies safer they will continue he said to brief Congress on those findings the Secretary of State also charged with being a part of that as well as trying to make the flies over the global Community safer now in terms of the three objects that were shot down over the weekend you heard him talk about the fact that they are trying to.

Recover some of the debris but Lester I can tell you based on my conversations here that has been a real challenge a big question mark over whether they will be able to do that and get to the bottom of it and finally you heard him reiterate that he gave the direction to shoot down the Chinese spy balloon when it was safe to do so now again this.

Comes amid growing calls for more information from Republicans and Democrats who say there hasn't been enough transparency Lester all right Christian thank you let me go to NBC News Pentagon correspondent Courtney cubey she's in Munich Germany where world leaders are meeting at a security conference according the president.

Talked about this this need to set new parameters obviously we can't imagine a world in which everything that's unidentified gets shot down immediately there either is there a pressure within the military to come up with some hard fast rules of how they react to these and I think this is not just going to be for the military but this will be a.

Wider including the FAA a decision about not just changing the radar parameters again but looking at some of these smaller maybe slower moving objects and rather than immediately scrambling Jets but having some sort of a of a specific checklist a checklist of what to do but I have to say Lester there were two things that really stuck out to me in.

The president's remarks one was the very last line that he said before he walked away and that was that he makes no apologies for shooting down that balloon he didn't mention the other three the other three objects he specifically was saying he didn't apologize for shooting down the one balloon didn't say anything about whether he thought that it was an.

Overreaction or potentially a mistake to shoot down the three follow-on objects in addition to that when he talked about the continuing efforts and Communications there was no mention there of the fact that the the Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin tried reaching out to his Chinese counterpart before the U.S shot down that high altitude.

Chinese surveillance balloon and the Chinese didn't pick up the phone the Milton Mill hotline that has existed for years now has been shut down essentially the Chinese not answering the phone and that's a real danger according to military officials they are very worried about the potential for some sort of a miscalculation think about the fact that.

The Chinese are operating things in in international airspace and so is the U.S but the Chinese consider a lot of this airspace and waterways to be their territorial areas so if there is no military to military communication and there's a U.S asset in one of those areas the Chinese see as their own without that sort of deconfliction.

Mechanism or line it has the potential to have a real problem here Lester I was surprised we didn't hear from President Biden specifically about that because secretary Austin has expressed his concerns about the potential dangers of that of that that hotline not existing right now all right Courtney thank you I'll ask you to stand by let me go to.

Admiral James stavridis he's NBC's Chief International Security and diplomacy analyst Admiral the president and others have talked about radar capabilities that that they're not set for slow-moving objects they are now what are we giving up in exchange though obviously the radar parameters were set at what they were for a reason.

Uh Lester the thing to focus on here is that detection is not just a single system it's not just the radar at Cheyenne Mountain in and around nor added South the North American air defense detection is a function of what your satellites see overhead what your intelligence feed is going in what your Radars all across the Pacific uh.

Indicate to you those over the Alaskan Coast as well you've got to be able to knit it together and I think the challenge here for the administration is going to be to find ways to respond in these slower moving scenarios because as you say it's been set for the high fast burner as we would call it so what that means is that you've got a tactical.

Challenge to kind of retrain your operators you've got an operational integration challenge to put all those pieces I mentioned together and then as we've been discussing there's a strategic challenge here in the sense that you've got to be able to respond quickly rapidly but in a way that doesn't create real escalation for.

Example with China because we are collecting on China we don't send balloons over China but we are close by China collecting so there could be back and forth that's a worry and to conclude this is why those open lines of communication the ability to call counterparts so important I had that as Supreme Allied Commander of NATO I could.

Call my Russian counterpart at any moment Lloyd Austin as Secretary of Defense has got to be able to reach out to the Pacific to the Russians everywhere disconcerting that the Chinese refused to take his call yeah Admiral thanks and Kristen before we wrap up here well is it what do you suspect in terms of.

Whether this will satisfy some of the calls in Congress for more information about all this I think the calls are going to continue to grow for more information Lester there's no doubt about that and part of the pressure to deliver these remarks in the first place is that this vacuum of information was giving way to conspiracy theories for.

Example a few days ago the White House Press Secretary came out and said look this is not the result of extraterrestrial activity the US is not under some type of broader threat Lester so the pressure mounts here all right Chris and thanks that concludes our special report much more tonight on NBC Nightly News I'm Lester Holt in New York.

Good day everyone foreign

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