Chinese spy balloons sought intel on 'our three major nuclear sites': House Foreign Affairs chair

Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) is "going to do an investigation" into why the use of flying objects for spying wasn't discovered sooner, said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, as senators prepare for classified brieifng from Pentagon Tuesday.

Published: February 13, 2023 6:27pm

Updated: February 14, 2023 12:11am

Last week, a suspected Chinese spy balloon was shot down. Since then, three other flying objects have been taken down.

John Kirby, coordinator for Strategic Communications at the National Security Council, said Monday during a White House press briefing that the Pentagon is working to recover and study the remnants of the objects.

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul said Sunday on CBS that the Chinese were surveiling nuclear sites with the spy balloon. 

"When I saw the sites that it was flying over, it was very clear to me this was an intentional act," he said. "It was done with provocation to gather intelligence data, and collect intelligence on our three major nuclear sites in this country. Why? Because they're looking at  what is our capability in the event of a possible future conflict in Taiwan."

The U.S. has sanctioned six entities "for supporting [China's] military modernization efforts," the Commerce Department announced Friday, "specifically those related to aerospace programs, including airships and balloons and related materials and components, that are used by the People's Liberation Army (PLA) for intelligence and reconnaissance."

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said the Pentagon recently discovered that China had been using spy balloons to collect intelligence inside the U.S. for many years. Schumer said he supports a full investigation into why the use of flying objects for intelligence gathering wasn't discovered sooner.

Montana Democratic Sen. Jon Tester from Montana is "going to do an investigation," Schumer said on Monday, noting that the first spy balloon was detected over Montana. "I fully support the Senate, bipartisan, investigating why we didn't know sooner. It's a good question that we need an answer to."

U.S. senators will receive a classified briefing Tuesday on the series of unidentified objects being downed by the U.S. military in the skies above North America, Fox News reported, citing a Senate aide.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre informed the public on Monday that "there is no indication of aliens or extra terrestrial activity" with the UFO incidents. 

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