Avoiding Nuclear Catastrophe – US Cancels Launch Of Minuteman III Ballistic Missile Amid Tensions With Russia

The United States canceled a test launch of a Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that had initially been delayed due to nuclear tensions with Russia, a US Air Force spokesperson confirmed to Sputnik.

“It is,” the spokesperson said on Friday when asked if the ICBM test launch had shifted from being delayed to canceled. In a separate statement obtained by Sputnik, Air Force spokesperson Ann Stefanek said the US used the same rationale in both delaying and canceling the test.

“The launch had been previously delayed due to an overabundance of caution to avoid misinterpretation or miscommunication during the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine and was canceled for the same reason. Our next planned test flight is later this year. The Department is confident in the readiness of the strategic forces of the United States,” Stefanek said.

On March 2, the US Department of Defense announced that Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin postponed a long-planned test launch of a Minuteman III ICBM in response to Russian President Vladimir Putin putting the Russian nuclear forces on alert.

File Image: Biden and Putin

Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said that the United States and Russia have long agreed that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought. The US Defense Department has repeatedly said it has not seen any action from Russia to cause the United States to change its nuclear posture.

The US Air Force tests four Minuteman III ICBMs each year from Vandenberg Space Force Base in the state of California.

Minuteman III was originally manufactured in 1970 and has undergone multiple refurbishments to ensure viability. US nuclear modernization plans call for the Minuteman III to be replaced with a newer ICBM known as the Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD), which is in the early stages of development, according to the Defense Department.

The transition is scheduled to begin when the GBSD achieves initial operating capability as early as 2029.