Pentagon: ICBM Test Postponed Amid Tensions with Russia

Amid the latest signs of nuclear tensions with Russia, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby announced that the Pentagon postponed this week the planned test of a Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

Noting that they did not take this decision lightly, Kirby said Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has postponed the planned ICBM test to demonstrate that the US is a responsible nuclear power that has no intention of engaging in any actions that can be misunderstood or misconstrued.

As a reason for the postponement, Kirby pointed the fact that Russian President Vladimir Putin directed a special alert of Russian nuclear forces, ordering the Russian defense minister and the chief of the military’s general staff to put the nuclear deterrent forces in a special regime of combat duty.

Kirby noted that the United States and other members of the international community rightly saw this dangerous and irresponsible move as a signal that tensions could boil over into a nuclear war that could have devastating consequences.

Both the US and Russia have long agreed that nuclear employment should be avoided and that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought, so Kirby underscored that Moscow’s provocative rhetoric and possible changes to nuclear posture – involving the most consequential weapons in the respective arsenals- is unacceptable.

Describing the ICBM test as critical to ensure that the US nuke deterrent stays effective, GOP Senator Jim Inhofe condemned the Pentagon’s postponement decision as disappointing, stressing that deterrence means projecting strength and resolve, not sacrificing the readiness for hollow gestures.

The US Air Force tests the nuclear-capable missiles about 4 times per year, sending an unarmed missile 4,000 miles into space before it lands near the Marshall Islands. It keeps on alert 400 Minuteman III missiles – each of which is armed with one nuclear warhead- at three bases in the West and Midwest.

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