US senator fears nuclear espionage
A US senator has requested a security briefing and decisive action against a potential Chinese surveillance operation, following the Pentagon’s announcement on Thursday that a high altitude balloon was being monitored in US skies.
Montana's Republican Senator Steve Daines sent the letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Thursday, expressing alarm over the incident and calling on the DOD to provide more information. “It is vital to establish the flight path of this balloon, any compromised US national security assets, and all telecom or IT infrastructure on the ground within the US that this spy balloon was utilizing,” the senator wrote.
“As you know, Montana plays a vital national security role by housing nuclear missile silos at Malmstrom AFB,” he continued.
Pentagon spokesperson Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder clarified at Thursday's briefing that the balloon, which the military believes belongs to China, didn’t pose an immediate safety threat.
“Instances of this kind of balloon activity have been observed previously over the past several years. Once the balloon was detected, the US government acted immediately to protect against the collection of sensitive information,” he said.
The US military claimed that they decided not shoot down the balloon due to safety concerns in the immediate area. While Beijing has not yet taken responsibility for the incident, US officials feel “confident” that the object belongs to the People’s Republic of China.
“Given the increased hostility and destabilization around the globe aimed at the United States and our allies, I am alarmed by the fact that this spy balloon was able to infiltrate the airspace of our country and Montana,” Daines concluded in his letter.