(Reuters) – The Biden administration postponed a long-planned test 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 spokesperson John Kirby told a briefing on Thursday.
China deployed scores of planes and fired live missiles in the Taiwan Strait on Thursday, a day after U.S. 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 U.S. Air Force had planned to conduct the test launch this week, Kirby said, but it will now be rescheduled for a date, without saying when exactly, in 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 U.S. 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 Co., is key to the U.S. military’s strategic arsenal. The missile has a range of 6,000-plus miles (9,660-plus km) and can travel at a speed of approximately 15,000 miles per hour (24,000 kph).
Approximately 400 of the missiles are located at Air Force bases in Wyoming, Montana and North Dakota.
(Reporting by Mrinmay Dey in Bengaluru and Chris Sanders in Boston; Editing by Josie Kao)