Pentagon again postpones nuclear missile test amid Chinese drills near Taiwan

WASHINGTON — Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to return to Pentagon postpone the planned intercontinental ballistic missile test launchThis comes amid heightened tensions with China over Taiwan, according to ministry and parliamentary sources.

“This is a long-planned test. It will be rescheduled at a time that we choose in the future,” a defense official told Defense News.

It’s the second delay in Minuteman III testing after Austin ordered it in March be canceled To defuse tensions with Russia over its invasion of Ukraine. The unarmed missile was launched from Space Force Station Vandenberg, California, and was scheduled to land on Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.

The Pentagon’s decision to postpone the test comes after China conducted a “precision missile strike” in waters off Taiwan’s coast on Thursday, which heightened tensions in the region. Visit of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

White House national security spokesman John Kirby formally announced the postponement at a Thursday afternoon briefing, in a show of how serious the United States is about easing tensions with China. I have a responsibility,” he said.

Kirby denounced China’s launch of an estimated 11 ballistic missiles near Taiwan in one night as “irresponsible and contrary to its long-held goal of maintaining peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.”

Kirby stressed that the ICBM postponement would be short-lived, later suggesting it would be “a few weeks.” He said a new date for testing has already been set.

Kirby said the short delay meant the country’s nuclear reserves were unaffected.

“Decision [to postpone] “It’s evident in the context of the tensions we’re seeing right now, and they’re escalating quite a bit,” Kirby said. A confident and competent nuclear power, I believed I could afford to wait a few weeks for testing to reveal it in practice, not just words.When I say I have no interest in escalating tensions. , how serious we are.”

wall street journal was the first to report the delay.

China previously announced that military exercises by its navy, air force and other sectors were underway in six regions surrounding Taiwan. Taiwan claims China’s territory and threatens to annex it by force if necessary.

The U.S. Navy announced Thursday that the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan is operating in the Philippine Sea east of Taiwan as part of its “routine scheduled operations.”

Secretary of State Antony Brinken said Thursday of the exercises: We, nations around the world, believe that escalation serves no one and can have unintended consequences that benefit no one. ”

Kirby said at the White House that the United States doesn’t want a crisis, but that it won’t deter it from working in the Indo-Pacific. Air and sea transportation through the Taiwan Strait will continue for the next few weeks, he added, and the United States will take steps to demonstrate its commitment to the security of its regional allies, including Japan.

The delay sparked a backlash from Republicans to Capitol Hill. House Armed Services Committee executive Mike Rogers, Alabama Republican, framed the delay as a concession to Russia and China.

“These feeble Pearlclutch attempts to appease us will only undermine our preparedness and invite further attacks by our adversaries,” Rogers said in a statement.

Tom Karako, director of the Missile Defense Project at the Institute for Strategic and International Studies think tank, told Defense News the delay in testing was the wrong move.

“I hope that at some point, neither the Russians nor the Chinese will be so impressed with this kind of thing,” Karako said. and will value action over laziness.”

The U.S. Air Force’s 576th Flight Test Squadron crews test four Minuteman III rockets from Vandenberg each year, according to the Pentagon. Tests are planned years in advance and published to avoid miscalculations.

Air Force Global Strike Command declined to comment and forwarded comments to the Department of Defense.

In March, the commander of the U.S. Strategic Command, Gen. Charles Richard, told lawmakers that the United States had not changed its nuclear posture following Russia’s decision to build up its nuclear arsenal.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Joe Gould is a Senior Writer for the Department of Defense Defense News, covering the intersection of national security policy, politics and the defense industry.

Stephen Losey is an air warfare reporter for Defense News. He previously produced reports for his Military.com covering the Department of Defense, Special Operations and Air Warfare. Prior to that, he was in charge of U.S. Air Force leadership, personnel, and operations at the Air Force He Times.

https://www.defensenews.com/pentagon/2022/08/04/pentagon-again-delays-nuclear-missile-test/ Pentagon again postpones nuclear missile test amid Chinese drills near Taiwan

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