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US recent ballistic missile test boosts world’s re-nuclearization

US military, Beijing, China, ICBM

Opinion

US recent ballistic missile test boosts world’s re-nuclearization

Nuclear tensions are rising more and more as US recent ballistic missile test boosts world’s re-nuclearization. Writes Lucas Leiroz

Nuclear tensions are rising more and more. The US military said on August 16 that it had conducted a test with the Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile. In the official statement, it was also informed that the operation was already previously scheduled, having been postponed in order to avoid increasing tensions with Beijing during China’s show of force near Taiwan earlier this month. For some unexplained reason, Washington considered the current moment to be the most “appropriate” for the maneuver.

The missile was launched from the Vandeberg Space Force base in California and traveled about 6,760 km. Military spokespeople indicated that the self-propelled projectile was unarmed and equipped with a test reentry vehicle. Additionally, the statement makes clear that the mission was intended to demonstrate the readiness of US nuclear forces.

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“Air Force Global Strike Command Airmen launched an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile equipped with a test re-entry vehicle from Vandenberg Space Force Base, California, Aug. 16 at 12:49 a.m. Pacific Time to demonstrate the readiness of U.S. nuclear forces and provide confidence in the lethality and effectiveness of the nation’s nuclear deterrent”, the statement says.

Manufactured by Boeing, the Minuteman III is a missile with nuclear capability and high destructive power. Currently, this missile is a key element in the US military’s strategic arsenal. The weapon has a range capability of over 9,660 km and can travel at a speed of approximately 24,000 km per hour. Minuteman III is also considered a part of the so-called American “nuclear triad”, along with the submarine-launched ballistic missile Trident and nuclear weapons carried by long-range strategic bombers.

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Commenting on the relevance of the test, Colonel Chris Cruise, 576th Flight Test Squadron Commander, said: “Make no mistake – our nuclear triad is the cornerstone of the national security of our country and of our allies around the globe (…) This scheduled test launch is demonstrative of how our nation’s ICBM fleet illustrates our readiness and reliability of the weapon system. It is also a great platform to show the skill sets and expertise of our strategic weapons maintenance personnel and of our missile crews who maintain an unwavering vigilance to defend the homeland”.

It must be mentioned that tests with this equipment had previously been canceled by the US on at least two occasions, one in April and another in early August. The first cancellation was motivated by the need to avoid nuclear tensions with Russia in the midst of the special military operation in Ukraine. The second one was due to tensions with China over Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei.

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What is not clear, however, is why the current moment was considered appropriate by the US military to conduct this type of test. Tensions with Russia and China have not ceased – not even decreased. Washington continues to destabilize Eastern Europe’s security by sending weapons to the Ukrainian government in order to “delay” Russian victory in Ukraine – even though it is well known that these weapons are being used to hit civilian targets and nuclear plants (Zaporozhye). In the same sense, provocations against China are still on the rise, with recent new visits by American officials to the island, even after constant Chinese messages for the US to stop violations of Beijing’s sovereignty.

So, in fact, the American test can only be interpreted as a real show of force. Despite previous cancellations, the choice of the current moment was not motivated by being a “more stable” scenario – because it is not. The choice was made precisely to, in the midst of the global security crisis, show the world the power of the American war arsenal. Furthermore, it is obviously a response to Chinese military activities in the Taiwan Strait, considering that this issue is the current major global focus of tensions.

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The result of the American attitude will be only one: boosting even further the militarization and re-nuclearization of the world. What is expected for the near future is that the US rival countries put themselves in a state of alert – including nuclear alert, in the case of the powers that have this technology. For example, the North Korean government, according to recent reports, is planning a new nuclear test. With the US launching ballistic missiles, it is likely that projects in this direction will be heightened. Something similar can be said about Iran, which, in the face of the US threat, is expected to become even more resistant in negotiations on a new nuclear deal.

Once again, the US is pushing for the re-nuclearization of international politics. It is unreasonable for a country to provoke its rivals and then, faced with the responses, decide to dissuade them by launching missiles. Washington needs to understand that the multipolar world order will be built through multilateral dialogue and non-interventionism, not through military intimidation.

Lucas Leiroz, researcher in Social Sciences at the Rural Federal University of Rio de Janeiro; geopolitical consultant.

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