An unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile launched just after midnight from Vandenberg Space Force Base on Tuesday, August 16.
The purpose of the ICBM test launch program is to validate and verify the safety, security, effectiveness, and readiness of the weapon system. However, during significant conflicts between major countries, such tests are delayed to avoid causing further aggression.
Two Minuteman III missile tests have been delayed for such reasons in 2022.
The first delay was when Russia invaded Ukraine earlier this year, and the second was in early August after conflict began between China and Taiwan. After U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan, China launched 11 ballistic missiles toward Taiwan, impacting several areas of the island.
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“The decision [to postpone] came in light and in context of the tensions that we’re seeing right now,” said John Kirby, the White House’s national security spokesperson, at a press conference on August 4. “We do not believe it is in our interest, Taiwan’s interest, and the region’s interest to allow tensions to escalate further….”
The U.S. condemned China’s actions, with Kirby calling the launch “irresponsible,” and “at odds with the long-standing goal to maintain peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.”