Pentagon to test Minuteman III missile as arms race with China intensifies

The Pentagon has announced that the United States is set to test a Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile on Wednesday (September 7).

Having notified Russia of the launch, a Pentagon spokesman called the test routine and the aim is show just how ready the nuclear arsenal of the United States is.

This isn't the first scheduled launch the States have had to test the Minuteman III, as previous attempts have resulted in delays to avoid increasing tension with China over Taiwan.

Tensions with Russia was also considered when delaying the previous launches.

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Pentagon spokesperson Pat Ryder said an unarmed missile would be launched from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.

"This launch is a routine test, which was scheduled far in advance and consistent with previous tests. This ICBM launch will validate and verify effectiveness and readiness of the system," he said.

"The purpose of the ICBM test launch programme is to demonstrate the readiness of US nuclear forces and provide confidence in the security and effectiveness of the nation's nuclear deterrent."

The Minuteman III is an important aspect of the U.S. military's strategic arsenal and can travel at speeds of up to 15,000mph.

A test was delayed last month after China deployed dozens of planes and fired missiles near Taiwan, and in response a launch was delayed as a show of strength to demonstrate support for the visit of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in Taiwan.

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At the time, White House security spokesman John Kirby said the decision to delay was decided by President Joe Biden.

"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," he said.

Republicans accused the White House of attempting to appease Chinese Premier Xi Jinping's and succumbing to his "tantrums".

"These weak-kneed pearl-clutching attempts at appeasement hurts our readiness and will only invite further aggression by our adversaries," said Rep Mike Rogers (R-AL), lead Republican on the House Armed Services Committee.

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