By JOSH FRIEDMAN
Amid the war between Russia and Ukraine and rising concerns over Moscow’s rhetoric relating to nuclear weapons, the United States Department of Defense postponed this week’s test launch of a Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile from Vandenberg Space Force Base.
While speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said, in the aftermath of Russian President Vladimir Putin putting Russia’s nuclear deterrent forces on high alert, the United States does not want to engage in actions that could be misunderstood or misconstrued. So, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin directed that the Minuteman III test launch be postponed.
“Last weekend, as you saw, President Putin directed a special alert of Russian nuclear forces. Now in this time of heightened tensions, the United States and other members of the international community rightly saw this as a dangerous and irresponsible, and as I’ve said before, an unnecessary step,” Kirby said on Wednesday. “Such provocative rhetoric and possible changes to nuclear posture involving the consequential weapons in our respective arsenals in unacceptable. The United States has not taken any similar steps.
“So in an effort to demonstrate that we have no intention in engaging in any actions that could be misunderstood or misconstrued, the secretary of defense has directed that our Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile test launch scheduled for this week to be postponed. We did not take this decision lightly, but instead to demonstrate that we are a responsible nuclear power. This is not a step backwards in our readiness, nor does it imply that we will necessarily cancel other routine activities to ensure a credible nuclear capability. We remain confident in our strategic posture, as we’ve said before, and our ability to defend the homeland and our allies and our partners remains fully intact and ready. We recognize at this moment of tension how critical it is that both the United States and Russia bear in mind the risk of miscalculation and take steps to reduce those risks.”