Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has again ordered the Pentagon to postpone a planned test launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile, this time amid increased tension with China over Taiwan, according to a department and a congressional source.
It’s the second delay for the Minuteman III test after Austin ordered one in March be called off to quell tension with Russia over its invasion of Ukraine. The unarmed missile was due to be fired from Vandenberg Space Force Base, California, and splash down at the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.
The Pentagon’s decision to delay the test came as China conducted “precision missile strikes” Thursday in waters off Taiwan’s coasts as part of military exercises that have raised tension in the region following a visit by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
White House national security spokesman John Kirby formally announced the delay in a briefing Thursday afternoon, calling it “the responsible thing to do” to show how serious the United States is about easing tension with China.