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Biden admin postpones ballistic missile test over ‘tensions’ with Russia

An unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Clayton Wear)
March 03, 2022

President Joe Biden’s administration said on Wednesday that it had postponed an intercontinental ballistic missile test launch due to “heightened tensions” related to Russia.

During a press conference, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby revealed the test, originally scheduled for this week, had been 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. Both the United States and Russia have long agreed that nuclear employment could have devastating consequences, and we both agreed, most recently this year in the context of the P5 statement, that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought,” Kirby said.

“Such provocative rhetoric and possible changes to nuclear posture involving the most consequential weapons in our respective arsenals is unacceptable. The United States has not taken any similar steps,” he continued. “And so in an effort to demonstrate that we have no intention in engaging in any actions that can 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.”

Kirby said the postponement is meant to demonstrate that the United States is 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,” Kirby argued. “We remain confident in our strategic posture, as we’ve said before, and our ability to defend the homeland and our allies and 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.”

Kirby later noted that the administration has not rescheduled the test yet.

When asked what the administration’s response would be to a Russian jet entering U.S. airspace, Kirby said NORAD – North American Aerospace Defense Command – is “perfectly postured.”

“Without getting into specific hypotheticals, NORAD is perfectly postured. This is the mandate for NORAD to protect our homeland, North American homeland and airspace and they’re ready to do their contribution to the President’s order. I think I just need to leave it at that,” Kirby responded.