US tests unarmed intercontinental ballistic missile amid North Korea tensions
The U.S. Air Force conducted a scheduled test of an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) early Wednesday morning in California.
The missile was launched 2:10 a.m. local time from the Air Force’s North Vandenberg Air Force Base, located nearly 130 miles northwest of Los Angeles.
"While not a response to recent North Korean actions, the test demonstrates that the United States’ 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," a statement from the Air Force said.
While today's ICBM test by the Air Force is not in retaliation to North Korea's ICBM test this past Friday, it comes amid growing tensions with Pyongyang.
The Pentagon has expressed concern that North Korea poses a danger to the commercial aircraft region.
A U.S. official confirmed Tuesday that a commercial airliner flew past the location where North Korea's latest ICBM would land -- less than 10 minutes later -- in the Sea of Japan on Friday.
The July 28 ICBM test by North Korea was the longest flight of a ballistic missile in the country's history, Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis confirmed Monday.
In “direct response” to North Korea, the U.S. flew two supersonic B-1 bombers with their Japanese and South Korean allies in the North Korea peninsula on Saturday.
North Korea launched its first ICBM test on July 4 with leader Kim Jong-un calling it a “gift to the U.S.” on its independence day.
Minuteman missiles have been regularly tested at the Vandenberg base, and today's test is the fourth this year. These missiles travel 4,200 miles (6,800 kilometers) across the Pacific to land at a target area in Kwajalein Atoll, according to the Associated Press.
The Air Force also conducted a test of a missile interceptor from Vandenberg in May that destroyed a mock warhead in the Pacific.