The US military has carried out a test of a Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), which had been kept on hold to avoid escalating tensions with Beijing while China’s show of force was on display near Taiwan earlier this month.
The tensions were sparked by the determination of US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi to pay visit to Taiwan, which Beijing took as a legitimising of the government which it considers to be a rebellious province and parts of its own territory. They have been subsequently fanned by the manoeuvres of the Chinese armed forces in close proximity to the island, which involved firing live ammunition.
The test signalled “the readiness of US nuclear forces and provides confidence in the lethality and effectiveness of the nation’s nuclear deterrent,” according to a statement by the US military. As stressed in the statement, about 300 such tests had been carried out before, and it was not down to any specific event.
The US military had previously cancelled a test of its Minuteman III ICBM, e.g. in April, to avoid escalating tensions in Russia, which is currently conducting an unprovoked invasion against neighbouring Ukraine, a country the US and other western states are supplying with aid, including military equipment.
Capable of carrying a nuclear payload, the Boeing-manufactured Minuteman III missile has a range of 9,660-plus km and can travel at a speed of approximately 24,000 km/h. The missiles are stored in and launched from underground silos.
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