‘Sank To The Bottom Of The Atlantic’: Kirby Says He Doesn’t Know When All Chinese Spy Balloon Debris Will Be Recovered

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Diana Glebova White House Correspondent
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There is no expected date as to when the Chinese balloon debris will be recovered from the Atlantic Ocean, White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Monday.

“We haven’t fully recovered everything. We have recovered some things from the bottom of the Atlantic, and we’re analyzing that,” Kirby said.

The U.S. military shot the balloon down Feb. 4 after it had been hovering over the U.S. for several days. The balloon was downed off the coast of South Carolina and landed in the ocean, a factor the Pentagon said was safer than shooting the balloon down while it was floating over land. (RELATED: US Downs Chinese Spy Balloon)

“They were able to take things off the surface … some of the balloon fabric,” Kirby added. “They have been able to recover some, not all, of the payload that sank to the bottom of the Atlantic. It’s in about 45 feet of water. Weather conditions are pretty tough off the coast right now,” Kirby said, adding that the divers were not able to dive Monday due to weather conditions.

Some of the “electronics” and “structure” of the balloon were recovered over the weekend, he said.

A reporter asked Kirby if he has an expectation for when “all that payload” will be collected.

“I don’t. If I could tell you that, I’d be a very wealthy man. It could take a long time, given the sea state, and weather conditions and the degree to which we have to protect the safety of the divers,” Kirby responded.

Kirby has maintained that recovering the balloon material will be critical to finding out more information about the structure and its capabilities.

Three more unidentified flying objects were shot down over North America after the Chinese spy balloon incident. The latest object was shot down Sunday by the U.S. military, 15 nautical miles off the coast of Michigan.

The U.S. does not know what the other objects looked like, what they were or who owned them, Kirby said, and is awaiting details following more investigation.