The US Pentagon confirmed Friday night that a second Chinese surveillance balloon was flying over South America, a new twist in the affair that has cast a chill between the United States and China.
“We have reports of a balloon transiting Latin America.
We now assess it to be another Chinese surveillance balloon,” Brigadier General Patrick Ryder, the Pentagon spokesman, said in a statement.
Neither its location nor the direction it is taking have been specified, but information had earlier mentioned the flight over Colombia and Venezuela.
A U.S. official told CNN, on condition of anonymity, that this big moon does not appear to be heading toward the United States right now.
Read alsoSpy balloon or weather balloon?
What we know about the Chinese plane flying over the United States
Thursday, Washington announced that it had detected a spy balloon from China 30 m in diameter, criss-crossing its sky at an altitude of 18,000 m, particularly above military installations.
US Foreign Minister Antony Blinken has postponed his visit to China.
"The decision of the People's Republic of China (to send this balloon) in clear violation of American sovereignty and international law, on the eve of my visit, is detrimental to the substantive discussions that we were ready to have," he said. castigated the Secretary of State.
A weather probe?
" Ridiculous "
Beijing, which had initially called not to “raise the pin” on this affair, admitted on Friday that it was indeed a device from China, and apologized.
“It is a civilian aircraft, used for research purposes, mainly meteorological”, which “deviated from its trajectory” pushed by the winds, assured a spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a press release.
Daniel Russel, the main American diplomat for Asia under the presidency of Barack Obama, considered this alibi “ridiculous”.
This Saturday, Beijing criticized "some American politicians and media (for using) the incident as a pretext to attack and defame China", and affirmed that "neither China nor the United States had announced a visit ".
"China always strictly abides by international law (...) and has never violated the territory and airspace of a sovereign country," the statement added.
According to American media, the aerostat flew over the Aleutian Islands in the northern Pacific Ocean, then crossed Canadian airspace, before entering the United States about two days ago.
He notably flew over the state of Montana (west), which is home to nuclear missile silos, where fighter jets approached him, a senior Pentagon official said Thursday on condition of anonymity.
“There is something up there!
“: a Chinese spy balloon filmed in the sky of the United States
On Friday, the first ball “changed course,” according to Ryder.
Projections show a path through Kentucky, Tennessee to North Carolina in the next few hours, heading across the Atlantic to leave the United States near the Outer Banks.