US Delays Missile Test Launch in Attempt to Tone Down Russia Nuclear Tensions

By Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Reporter
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. and world news. He is based in Maryland.
March 2, 2022 Updated: March 2, 2022

The United States has postponed a test missile launch to try to demonstrate it has no intention of getting into a nuclear war, the military said March 2.

“In an effort that we have no intention of engaging in any actions that could 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,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters in Washington.

The launch was going to be held by the Air Force. Military officials declined to say when or where it would have been held.

There’s no new date at this time for the launch.

Kirby said the move was aimed at demonstrating “that we are a responsible nuclear power” and that future test launches may or may not be canceled. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin remains confident that the current nuclear posture is adequate to defend the United States and allies, he added, explaining why America’s nuclear deterrence levels weren’t altered.

Russian President Vladimir Putin over the weekend placed his country’s nuclear deterrence forces on high alert, several days after his forces invaded Ukraine.

Putin said the move stemmed from the “aggressive statements” that North Atlantic Treaty Organization were making with regards to Russia, in addition to the sanctions they’ve imposed, which he described as illegal.

Epoch Times Photo
Russian President Vladimir Putin visits a site in Moscow, Russia on Feb. 27, 2022. (Sergei Guneyev/AFP via Getty Images)
Epoch Times Photo
U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin (2nd L) participates in an honor cordon to welcome Bahrain Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa (L) to the Pentagon in Arlington, Va., on March 2, 2022. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Ukrainian officials said the announcement was aimed at putting pressure on them to accept a peace deal with poor conditions, which they’ve vowed not to do.

The United States had not taken any concrete action before Wednesday in response to the announcement, though officials decried the move. President Joe Biden on Monday told reporters that Americans should not be worried about the prospect of a nuclear war.

Kirby said there are no indications at present to suggest Putin plans to launch nuclear weapons and called for Moscow to dial down its posture in response to America postponing the test launch.

“Both the United States and Russia have long agreed that nuclear deployment could have devastating consequences. And we both agreed, most recently this year, that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought,” Kirby said. Putin’s “provocative rhetoric” and “possible changes to nuclear posture,” he added, “is unacceptable.”

Kirby spoke after Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said a third world war “will be nuclear and destructive.”

Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. and world news. He is based in Maryland.