U.S. Test-Launches ICBM as Tensions Rise With North Kor…

Courtney Kube and Ali Vitali

WASHINGTON — The U.S. military successfully test-launched an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile from California early Wednesday, according to an Air Force spokesman — just days after North Korea’s second test of an ICBM.

The unarmed Minuteman III missile was launched at 2:10 a.m. PT from Vandenberg Air Force Base, about 130 miles northwest of Los Angeles.

An Air Force statement said that the test was not a response to recent North Korean actions but show that the America’s nuclear enterprise is “safe, secure, effective and ready to be able to deter, detect and defend against attacks on the United States and its allies.”

The ICBM was equipped with a test reentry vehicle, which officials said showed it traveled about 4,200 miles to the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.

U.S. Air Force Global Strike Command has tested 299 Minuteman III ICBMs over the program’s history. In a statement, the command said the test launch program was meant to “validate and verify the effectiveness, readiness, and accuracy of the weapon system.”

Minuteman missiles are regularly tested with launches from Vandenberg that send unarmed re-entry vehicles 4,200 miles across the Pacific to a target area at Kwajalein Atoll.

Last week, North Korea tested an ICBM for the second time. The missile flew for 45 minutes and traveled more than 1,000 kilometers laterally. U.S. officials believe the missile broke up upon re-entering the atmosphere.

Minuteman III Rocket Launch

A Minuteman III rocket is launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.