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National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said, on Wednesday, that the United States has postponed a scheduled test of an intercontinental ballistic missile amid rising tensions with China, which has deployed dozens of military aircraft and missiles in the Taiwan Strait in recent days.
“We do not believe it is in our interests, Taiwan’s interests, and the interests of the region to allow tensions to rise further, which is why the Minuteman III ICBM test scheduled for this week has been rescheduled for the near future,” Kirby said. Briefing at the White House.
“As China engages in destabilizing military maneuvers around Taiwan, the United States is instead demonstrating the behavior of a responsible nuclear power by reducing the risks of miscalculation and misunderstanding.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., visited Taiwan earlier this week and met with President Tsai Ing-wen and Secretary of State Joseph Wu.
China strongly condemned the visit and launched a series of live-fire military exercises in waters around Taiwan, deploying J-20 stealth fighter jets and DF-17 hypersonic missiles.
Kirby said Thursday that delaying ICBM testing would not affect the “modernization, readiness or reliability” of the US nuclear defense system, but Republican lawmakers immediately condemned the move.
Pelosi challenges China during his meeting with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen: “We will not abandon our commitment”
Senator Tom Cotton, Republican of Ark, noted in a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin that this is the second time the United States has delayed testing an ICBM this year after the launch of the Minuteman III ICBM was delayed in March amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
“Are these reports accurate? If so, how long does the administration intend to allow Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping to dictate our missile testing schedule?” asked Cotton Lloyd in the letter.
Alabama Representative Mike Rogers, the ranking Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, accused the Biden administration of canceling tests in order to “appease.” [Chinese President Xi Jinping’s] temper tantrums “.
“These weak attempts at de-escalation damage our preparedness and will only lead to further aggression by our adversaries,” Rogers said in a statement Thursday.
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Kirby defended the postponement on Thursday, saying the test would be rescheduled in the near future.
“The president, and the national security team, believed that a strong, confident, capable nuclear power could wait two weeks for a test to show, not just in words but in deeds, how seriously we take it when we say we have no interest in escalating tensions,” he said Thursday.
The Minuteman III ICBM is an approximately 80,000-pound silo-launched missile with a range of over 6,000 miles and can travel at approximately 15,000 miles per hour.
Chad Bergram of Fox News contributed to this report.