The US military has canceled a test of its Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile, which it initially intended only to postpone, in a bid to ease nuclear tensions with Russia during the war in Ukraine, the Air Force told Reuters on Friday.
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The Pentagon first announced a postponement of the test on March 2, after Russia said it was putting its nuclear forces on high alert. Washington said at the time that it was important for the United States and Russia to “remember the risk of miscalculation and take steps to reduce those risks.”
But he had publicly stated his intention only to delay the test “a little” and not cancel it.
Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek said the decision to cancel the test of the LGM-30G Minuteman III missile is for the same reasons as when it was postponed. The next test of the Minuteman III is scheduled to take place later this year.
Russia and the US have 90% of the world’s nuclear arsenal
“The Air Force is confident in the readiness of US strategic forces,” Stefanek said.
Changing the testing schedule for an intercontinental ballistic missile could be controversial. US Senator Jim Inhofe, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, expressed disappointment in March at the postponement of a test he said was crucial to ensuring the US nuclear deterrent remains effective.
Jeffrey Lewis, a missile researcher at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS), played down the impact of the cancellation.
“There’s value in doing the tests, but I don’t think missing a test in the grand scheme of things is really that big of a problem,” Lewis said, adding that the Minuteman III is extremely reliable.