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.
The United States and its allies flew supersonic bombers and fighter jets over the Korea Peninsula on Sunday in a 10-hour show of force against North Korea following the country’s latest ICBM launch.
The U.S. B-1 bombers first flew over Japanese airspace, where they were joined by two Japanese F-2 fighter jets, before flying over the Korean Peninsula with four South Korean F-15 fighter jets, U.S. Pacific Air Forces said in a statement.
The Air Force said the 10-hour mission was a direct response to North Korea’s two intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) tests this month, the latest of which occurred Friday.
Analysts say the North’s test Friday showed that a broader part of the mainland United States, including Los Angeles and Chicago, is now in range of Pyongyang’s weapons.
Asked about possible U.S. military action against North Korea, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders reiterated on Tuesday that “all options are on the table” but the administration would not “broadcast what we’re going to do.”
The focus for the administration remains on stopping North Korea’s nuclear program and halting their aggression, Sanders said.
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