The U.S. military successfully test-fired a nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) Wednesday.
The Air Force launched an unarmed Minuteman III missile was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California just after midnight, the service reported. The ICBM flew over 4,000 miles, landing near the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.
The launch “ensures” the U.S. is able to maintain a “strong, credible nuclear deterrent” as a major part of national security,” the Air Force said in a statement. The Minuteman ICBM system has been in service for 60 years, and through upgrades and improvements, this weapons system continues to meet the needs of the U.S. military.
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“These Minuteman launches are essential to verify the status of our national nuclear force and to demonstrate our national nuclear capabilities,” Colonel John Moss, 30th Space Wing commander, told WRAL.
The Minuteman ICBM system has been in service for 60 years, and through upgrades and improvements, this weapons system continues to meet the needs of the U.S. military.
The missile test comes amidst rising tensions in Korea as the North attempts to develop an ICBM capable of striking targets in the continental U.S. with a nuclear warhead.
“We have reached the final stage of preparations to test-launch an intercontinental ballistic missile,” young North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un said in his New Year’s address, adding that, “Research and development of cutting edge arms equipment is actively progressing.”
“Just because the U.S. is located more than ten thousand kilometers away does not make the country safe,” the Rodong Sinmun, the primary publication of the ruling Worker’s Party, warned, “Soon our ICBM will send the shiver down [America’s] spine.”
During a massive military parade marking the 105th anniversary of the birth of North Korean founder Kim Il Sung on April 15, North Korea rolled out several ICBM mockups, including two previously unseen variations.
North Korea has yet to demonstrate a suitable re-entry vehicle for an ICBM, and it is unclear whether they have developed an appropriate nuclear warhead. Nonetheless, some observers suspect that North Korea might have the ability to strike the continental U.S. by the end of President Trump’s first term.
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