US tests unarmed intercontinental missile
The US military has launched an unarmed intercontinental ballistic missile from California in a test of a weapon system which forms part of its nuclear force.
The Minuteman 3 missile blasted off in the early hours of Wednesday morning from Vandenberg Air Force Base, delivering a single re-entry vehicle to a target some 6,759km away in the Pacific Ocean.
Colonel John Moss, commander of Vandenberg’s 30th Space Wing, said in a statement the launch was an important demonstration of the nation’s nuclear deterrent capability.
Operational tests of the missile are conducted regularly but the timing of the launch comes amid growing tensions with North Korea.
President Donald Trump has in recent weeks ordered an aircraft carrier and other Navy vessels towards the Korean peninsula in a show of force to deter North Korea, which on Tuesday conducted large-scale, live-fire artillery drills.
The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation has accused the US of operating with double standards by viewing its own tests as justified but North Korea’s as threatening.
The US military last tested the Minuteman 3 missile in early February.