US delays Minuteman III missile test amid tensions over Taiwan

China conducts conventional missile tests into the waters off the eastern coast of Taiwan, from an undisclosed location. PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - The Biden administration postponed a routine test launch of an Air Force Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile to avoid escalating tensions with Beijing during China’s show of force near Taiwan, national security spokesman John Kirby told a briefing on Thursday (Aug 4).

China deployed scores of planes and fired live missiles in the Taiwan Strait on Thursday, a day after US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi made a trip to the self-ruled island.

China considers Taiwan part of its territory and has never renounced using force to bring it under its control.

The US Air Force had planned to conduct the test launch this week, Kirby said, but it will now be rescheduled for the near future.

“As China engages in destabilizing military exercises around Taiwan, the United States is demonstrating instead the behavior of a responsible nuclear power by reducing the risks of miscalculation and misperception,” Kirby said.

“We do not believe it is in our interest, Taiwan’s interest, the region’s interests, to allow tensions to escalate further, which is why a long planned Minuteman III ICBM test scheduled for this week has been rescheduled for the near future,” he said.

In April, the US military canceled a test of its Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile. That delay had aimed to lower nuclear tensions with Russia during the ongoing war in Ukraine.

The nuclear-capable Minuteman III, made by Boeing, is key to the US military’s strategic arsenal.

The missile has a range of over 9,000km and can travel at a speed of approximately 24,000kmh.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.