The United States military said on Tuesday that it had carried out a test of a Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile, delayed to avoid escalating tensions with Beijing during China’s show of force near Taiwan earlier this month.
China deployed scores of planes and fired live missiles in the Taiwan Strait after U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi made a trip to the self-ruled island. China considers Taiwan part of its territory and has never renounced using force to bring it under its control.
The test showed “the readiness of U.S. nuclear forces and provides confidence in the lethality and effectiveness of the nation’s nuclear deterrent,” a U.S. military statement said.
The military said about 300 such tests had occurred before and it was not the result of any specific global event.
In April, the U.S. military canceled a test of its Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile. That delay had aimed to lower nuclear tensions with Russia during the ongoing war in Ukraine.
The nuclear-capable Minuteman III, made by Boeing Co., is key to the U.S. military’s strategic arsenal. The missile has a range of 6,000-plus miles (9,660-plus kms) and can travel at a speed of approximately 15,000 miles per hour (24,000 kph).
Missiles are dispersed in hardened underground silos operated by launch crews.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said in February that his nation’s nuclear forces should be put on high alert, raising fears that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could lead to nuclear war. But U.S. officials have said they have seen no reason so far to change Washington’s nuclear alert levels.
Russia and the United States have by far the biggest arsenals of nuclear warheads after the Cold War that divided the world for much of the 20th century, pitting the West against the Soviet Union and its allies.