WASHINGTON | The U.S. military successfully test-launched an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) from California early on Wednesday morning days after North Korea test-launched its second ICBM.  The unarmed Minuteman III missile was launched at 2:10 am from Vandenberg Air Force Base about 130 miles northwest of Los Angeles.

The US Air Force successfully launched a Minuteman III missile from their base at Vandenberg, in California on Wednesday at 2.10am.

A statement from the Air Force said the launch test is not a direct response to North Korea’s antagonism but to send a strong message that American missiles are very effective and accurate.   It is also meant to show that the country is ready “to deter, detect and defend against attacks on the United States and its allies.”

The missile which travelled about 4,200 miles to the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands was equipped with a test re-entry vehicle.

“These test launches require the highest-degree of technical competence and commitment at every level,” said Col. Michael Hough, the 30th Space Wing Commander and launch decision authority.

“This combined team of the 90th Missile Wing, 756th Flight Test Squadron and 30th Space Wing is simply outstanding,” he continued.

The operation was conducted by a team of Air Force Global Strike Command Airmen from the 90th Missile Wing, along with the 576th Flight Test Squadron and the 30th Space Wing stationed at Vandenberg.

“Their efforts over the past few months show why they are among the most skilled operators in the Air Force.”

The test comes amid heightened tensions with Pyongyang after it launched its second ICBM in a month this past Friday, a further indication that its missiles are now capable of reaching major U.S. cities.  In response, the U.S. flew two B-1 bombers over South Korea in a show of force.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Tuesday also added, indicating that the U.S. is not seeking a regime change in North Korea and would agree to a dialogue if the rogue nation abandons its nuclear weapons program.

U.S. launched an unarmed Minuteman III ICBM days after North Korea launched its second. Photo: Airman 1st Class Clayton Wear, U.S. Air Force

“We’re trying to convey to the North Koreans, we are not your enemy.  We’re not your threat, but you are presenting an unacceptable threat to us and we have to respond,” Tillerson said at a State Department Briefing.

“We would like to sit and have a dialogue with them about the future that wll give them the security they seek and the future economic prosperity for North Korea.”

Air Force Global Strike Command has tested 299 Minuteman III ICBMs over the program’s history. The Minuteman IIIs are the U.S. military’s only land-based ICBMs. Another one was tested earlier this year in February from Vandenberg.


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