U.S. delays ballistic missile test amid tensions with China
The United States delayed a "long-planned" intercontinental ballistic missile test amid increased tensions with China, National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby announced on Thursday.
The big picture: Following House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taipei this week, China's military launched 11 ballistic missiles into waters near Taiwan during massive military exercises.
Driving the news: The Minuteman III missile test, which was set to occur this week, will be rescheduled for the "near future," Kirby told reporters at Thursday's White House briefing.
- "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.
- "The president believed and the national security team believed that a strong, confident, capable nuclear power can afford to wait a couple of weeks for a test to make it clear, not just in word, but in deed how serious we are when we say we have no interest in escalating the tensions," he added.
More details: The White House expects China will continue to react to Pelosi's visit in the coming days, Kirby said.
- The USS Ronald Reagan will remain in the area and conduct "standard air and maritime transits" through the Taiwan Strait in the next few weeks, he added.
- "The United States is prepared for what Beijing chooses to do," Kirby said. "We will not seek, nor do we want, a crisis. At the same time, we will not be deterred from operating in the seas and the skies of the Western Pacific consistent with international law."
- Kirby also accused the Chinese of using Pelosi's visit as a pretext to increase its military activity near Taiwan, adding that "Beijing’s provocative actions are a significant escalation in its longstanding attempt to change the status quo."
Background: The U.S. canceled another ICBM test in early March over heightened tensions with Russia.
- Just days after Russia invaded Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the country's nuclear deterrent forces on alert.
- In response, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin canceled the test to avoid "any actions that could be misunderstood or misconstrued."