The United States has postponed a long-planned intercontinental ballistic missile over concerns about China's angry response to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's trip to Taiwan, according to a senior official.
The decision to postpone the test flight of an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile this week comes as China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) launched military exercises around Taiwan in response to Pelosi's visit to Taipei.
Nancy Pelosi, the highest-ranking US official to visit Taiwan in 25 years, held talks with top Taiwanese leaders on Wednesday, angering Beijing. China claims Taiwan as part of its territory and vows to integrate it with the Chinese mainland, even by force.
John Kirby, the National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications, told reporters on Thursday that the Minuteman III ICBM test scheduled for this week has been rescheduled. "We do not believe it is in our interest, Taiwan's interest, the region's interest to allow tensions to escalate further, which is why a long-planned Minuteman III ICBM test scheduled for this week has been rescheduled for the near future," he said.
As China engages in destabilising military exercises around Taiwan, the United States is demonstrating instead the behaviour of a responsible nuclear power by reducing the risks of miscalculation and misperception, Kirby said. The US will continue to demonstrate transparency in its ballistic missile tests through timely notifications. That's a practice that China has often rejected, he said.
Rescheduling this test will not in any way impact the modernisation, the readiness, or the reliability of America's safe, secure, and effective nuclear deterrent. And the test will happen. It will be rescheduled for the near future, Kirby said. Unarmed US ICBMs are routinely tested to ensure the reliability of the systems.
China made good on its promise that Taipei would pay a price for hosting Pelosi by launching multiple missiles toward waters near northeastern and southwestern Taiwan on Thursday. On Friday, China's Foreign Ministry announced new countermeasures against the US, including the suspension of defence consultations and climate talks and imposed sanctions on Pelosi and her family members.The measures announced by Beijing include the cancellation of future phone calls and meetings between Chinese and US defence leaders, for which future dates had not been announced, and the cancellation of annual naval meetings under the China-US military maritime consultation mechanism.