DOD cancels ICBM test amid heightened tensions with Russia

By Tony Bertuca / March 2, 2022 at 5:03 PM

The Defense Department announced today it is canceling a Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile test previously scheduled for this weekend, citing heightened tensions with Russia, which recently put its nuclear forces on "special alert" during the ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

Though the cancellation was criticized by some congressional Republicans, chief Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said the decision reflects the U.S. desire to “demonstrate that we are a responsible nuclear power.”

“This is not a step backwards in our readiness, nor does it imply that we will necessarily cancel other routine activities to ensure a credible nuclear capability,” Kirby said. “We remain confident in our strategic posture. Our ability to defend the homeland and our allies and our partners remains fully intact and ready.”

However, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), ranking member on the Senate Armed Services Committee, released a statement on social media saying he is disappointed by the decision to cancel the ICBM test “in the face of Russian bluster.”

“These tests are critical to ensure the U.S. nuclear deterrent remains effective,” he said. “Deterrence is about projecting strength and resolve -- not sacrificing readiness for hollow gestures.”

Kirby stressed the decision was not made lightly.

“This is not a diminution in our readiness whatsoever,” he said. “This was a test. We do several a year. They are planned three to five years in advance. It’s not going to change our strategic deterrent posture one bit. It is a wise and prudent decision by the secretary to send a strong, clear, unambiguous message to [Russian President Vladimir Putin] how seriously we take our nuclear responsibilities at a particularly tense time.”