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US proceeds with missile launch after postponing due to tensions with China

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An Air Force Global Strike Command unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile launched during an operational test at 12:53 p.m. PT (Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2021), at Vandenberg Space Force Base, Calif. Vandenberg Space Force Base , via Twitter

The Pentagon proceeded with an intercontinental ballistic missile launch less than two weeks after postponing the planned test due to tensions with China over House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan.

The Air Force said Tuesday it launched an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile with a re-entry vehicle from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. The reentry vehicle traveled approximately 4,200 miles to Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.

The planned test was postponed in the days following Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan; China reacted to his trip by announcing live-fire exercises in the waters surrounding the island.

“We do not believe it is in our interest, the interests of Taiwan, the interests of the region to allow tensions to escalate further, which is why a long-planned Minuteman III ICBM test this week has been postponed in the near future,” the National Security Council said. Strategic Communications Coordinator John Kirby said when announcing the decision to postpone.

The Pentagon took a similar step in March when it postponed an ICBM test to avoid nuclear tensions with Russia after the invasion of Ukraine, then canceled the test a few weeks later for the same reason.

The Air Force said Tuesday’s test was routine and not the result of current world events.

“This scheduled test launch demonstrates how our nation’s ICBM fleet exemplifies our readiness and weapon system reliability,” said Col. Chris Cruise, commanding officer of the 576th Flight Test Squadron, in a statement.

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