Pentagon defends ICBM test decision — Analysis

Pentagon defends decision to cancel planned intercontinental ballistic-missile test, saying that it is reckless to overlook risks of increasing Ukraine crisis and putting Russian nuclear weapons on high alert.

“We are trying to help Ukraine defend itself; we’re going to make sure NATO can defend itself,”John Kirby, Pentagon spokesperson, said Sunday during a Fox News interview. “But we also have to be mindful that Russia’s a nuclear power. And so as we make these decisions, it would be irresponsible for us not to think about making sure we don’t escalate this conflict any bigger than it already is.”

This test involved the LGM-30G Minuteman III missile. It is a silo-mounted ICBM capable of carrying multiple nuclear warheads. The launch had been delayed a month ago, shortly after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his country’s nuclear deterrent forces to be in a higher state of readiness, or “special regime of combat duty.”

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Kirby dismissed critics’ suggestions that President Joe Biden might be afraid of Putin. “Biden has been nothing but direct with President Putin,”He stated. “There’s no fear here. President Biden sees President Putin for exactly what he is and the kind of leader that he is and the kind of unprovoked aggression that he’s conducting inside Ukraine.”

A Pentagon spokesperson noted that the Biden administration had strengthened NATO’s eastern flank, with additional aircraft and troops being deployed within the last week. The Pentagon spokesman said the ICBM launch was still on schedule.

“We are confident in our capabilities in terms of ballistic missile capabilities – that they’re still ready, that they’re still sound,”Kirby stated. “This test is just one of many that will be conducted and have been conducted in recent years. So we’re confident in that capability.”

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Kirby stated that the decision to cancel the test, which was postponed last month by the testing agency, was made after the delay. “an effort to demonstrate that we have no intention of engaging in any actions that could be misunderstood or misconstrued.” The Pentagon also criticized Putin’s decision to put Russian forces on high alert, calling it “dangerous, irresponsible and unnecessary.”Putin said it. “aggressive statements” by NATO and the West’s sanctions campaign against Russia made heightened nuclear readiness necessary.

Minuteman III first saw service in 1970. It was intended to stay in operation for around 10 years. The testing of the replacement missile, Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent, (GBSD), is expected to start by 2023.

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