May 23, 2022

Pentagon cancels planned intercontinental ballistic missile test amid war in Ukraine

When it comes to nuclear weapons, showing restraint is a good thing. However, the danger is how it could be considered a sign of weakness with a man like President Vladimir Putin.

The Pentagon held off on testing a Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile as Russia continues to wage war against Ukraine, Fox News reported. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin canceled the test to send a message to Putin that the U.S. would not use its nuclear weapons.

“Today, I want to talk a little bit about something that we are not going to do,” John Kirby, press secretary for the Pentagon, said in a news briefing Wednesday. “And I want to explain why last weekend, as you saw, President Putin directed a special alert of Russian nuclear forces,” he added.

“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,” Kirby said of the weapons testing. Russia and the U.S. have agreed to not use nuclear weapons because it would end poorly for both nations.

“Both the United States and Russia have long agreed that nuclear employment could have devastating consequences,” Kirby said. “Such provocative rhetoric and possible changes to nuclear posture involving the most consequential weapons in our respective arsenals is unacceptable,” he further warned.

The decision to cancel the ICBM test came from Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin “in an effort to demonstrate we have no intention in engaging in any actions that can be misunderstood or misconstrued,” Kirby said. “And we did not take this decision lightly, but instead to demonstrate that we are a responsible nuclear power.”

Some, like Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), took this move as a sign of U.S. weakness. “Disappointing @SecDef decision to cancel routine unarmed reliability test of Minuteman III in the face of Russian bluster,” he tweeted Wednesday. “Test is critical to ensure our nuke deterrent stays effective. Deterrence means projecting strength & resolve – not sacrificing readiness for hollow gestures.”

It’s clear that both nations must tread lightly. However, postponing a weapons test is easily interpreted as a sign that the U.S. is rolling over — and now is not the time for that.

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