The news comes as Russian state media repeatedly threaten western nations with nuclear strikes, with the SATAN II missile frequently quoted by Vladimir Putin’s mouthpieces in Moscow. It also follows fears over China attacking Taiwan, and North Korea threatening its southern neighbour have sparked concerns of global fallout. Pentagon sources have now stated the United States Air Force (USAF) conducted a test launch of an unarmed ICBM in the latest show of force and deterrence by Washington.
Speaking of the launch, Pentagon spokesman Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said yesterday the USAF Global Strike Command will launch the Minuteman III missile from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California, calling it a routine test that was scheduled well in advance.
The Pentagon has also informed Moscow of its intentions to launch the missile in accordance with international ICBM and nuclear missile treaty obligations.
The test is the second such launch in under one month and had been delayed to purposefully avoid further tension with China following the controversial visit to the island by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
During her visit to the wantaway island, China conducted live-fire exercises in the Straits of Taiwan, as well as firing missiles into the sea.
US President Joe Biden’s administration has said that it would continue to carry out routine air and naval operations in the Taiwan Strait in the coming weeks and follows on from the sailing of two US Navy ships through the strategic choke point last week.
China’s military said it carried out more exercises near Taiwan on Monday as a group of US lawmakers visited the Chinese-claimed island and met President Tsai Ing-wen, who said her government was committed to maintaining stability.
General Ryder did not address China during the presser.
MoD admits migrants may have fled Folkestone
The launch is being conducted in order to address the effectiveness and readiness of US nuclear forces according to the senior Pentagon official.
General Ryder said: “The purpose of the ICBM test launch program is to demonstrate the readiness of US nuclear forces and provide confidence in the security and effectiveness of the nation’s nuclear deterrent.”
The missile carries a test re-entry vehicle, which in a strategic conflict, could be armed with a nuclear warhead.
The re-entry vehicle travelled about 4,200 miles to the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands in the western Pacific.
The nuclear-capable Minuteman III, made by Boeing is key to the US military’s strategic arsenal.
The missile has a range of 6,000-plus miles and can travel at a speed of approximately 15,000 miles per hour.
Russian forces ‘running out of UAVs’ – Putin degraded [REPORT]
F-35 fighter jet facing competition [REVEAL]
Royal Navy escorts Russian Navy through English Channel [INSIGHT]
Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin blocked a similar such test in March following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The delay was said to have been ordered to avoid any misunderstanding with Moscow, with the department choosing to encourage Vladimir Putin to seek a diplomatic solution to the war with Ukraine.
Russia and the United States still enjoy the world’s largest nuclear arsenals.
Moscow leads the reserves with over 6,200 warheads, with the US closely behind on 5,600.
China lies in third place with 350 warheads, followed by France, the UK and Pakistan respectively.
Israel is also thought to possess over 300 warheads, but has never openly admitted the fact, nor is it a member of the international Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) designed to provide reassurances over nuclear technology and weaponry.
Scroll down to our comments section below to share YOUR views on this story
Tension is also growing in West Asia with fears a nuclear deal with Iran could fall through following failed diplomacy.
Israel has lobbied the US hard suggesting Iran could be nuclear ready in the near future.
Mr Biden has vowed not to “tie Israel’s hands behind its back” should it wish to pre-emptively strike Iranian nuclear facilities.
Backing up Tel-Aviv, this week, the US Air Force flew two strategic B-52 nuclear bombers from the UK to West Asia, joining forces in the skies with 3 Israeli F-16 fighter jets.
Speaking of the flight, Lt. Gen. Alexus Grynkewich, the top U.S. Air Force officer in the Middle East said: “Threats to the US and our partners will not go unanswered.
“Missions like this … showcase our ability to combine forces to deter and, if necessary, defeat our adversaries.”
Follow me on Twitter @JamesLee_DE for more Defence and Security News