Pentagon officials are postponing a test launch of the Minuteman III ballistic missile this week to show that the United States is a “responsible nuclear power” following President Vladimir Putin’s order to boost Russia’s nuclear readiness.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has decided to postpone the reliability test without weapons.
“We did not take this decision lightly,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters on Wednesday. “This is not a step back in our readiness and does not mean that we will cancel other routine measures to ensure reliable nuclear capabilities.”
Mr Austin has decided to postpone the launch to demonstrate that the US does not intend to engage in any actions that may be misunderstood or misinterpreted, Mr Kirby said.
“The Secretary’s wise and prudent decision is to send a strong, clear and unambiguous message to Mr Putin,” a Pentagon spokesman said. “Our ability to defend our homeland, our allies and partners remains completely intact.”
The cessation of missile tests has drawn criticism from some Republicans on Capitol Hill. Sen. Jim Inhoff, a Republican from Oklahoma, said he was disappointed with Mr. Austin’s decision to cancel the aging Minuteman III test in the face of “Russian outrage.”
“Restraint is a projection of strength and determination, not a sacrifice of readiness for empty gestures,” the Senate Republican Chief of the Senate Armed Services Committee said on Twitter. “These tests are critical to ensuring the effectiveness of U.S. nuclear deterrence.”