US launches unarmed long-range ballistic missile, as tensions with North Korea intensify
An unarmed Minuteman 3 intercontinental ballistic missile was launched from California early Wednesday morning, in a test of the weapon system that is part of the US nuclear force
Vandenberg Air Force Base: An unarmed Minuteman 3 intercontinental ballistic missile was launched from California early Wednesday morning, in a test of the weapon system that is part of the US nuclear force.
The missile blasted off from a silo at 12:03 am from Vandenberg Air Force Base, and delivered a single re-entry vehicle to a target approximately 4,200 miles (6,759 kilometers) away at Kwajalein Atoll in the Pacific Ocean, the Air Force Global Strike Command said.
The launch command was issued via an air launch control system aboard a Navy E-6 Mercury jet.
"Tonight's launch was an important demonstration of our nation's nuclear deterrent capability," Col. John Moss, commander of Vandenberg's 30th Space Wing, said in a statement. "Test launches like this one are vital to validating the effectiveness and readiness of our operational nuclear systems, so it is critical that they are successful."
Operational tests of Minuteman 3 missiles are conducted regularly, but the timing of Wednesday's launch amid US tensions with North Korea over its nuclear and missile programs drew criticism from the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, which has advocated against nuclear weapons for more than 30 years.
"When it comes to missile testing, the US is operating with a clear double standard: It feels its own tests as justified and useful, while it views the tests of North Korea as threatening and destabilizing," David Krieger, president of the organisation, said in a statement on its website on Monday.
"What is needed is diplomacy rather than military provocations. Threats, whether in the form of tweets, nuclear-capable aircraft carrier groups, or nuclear-capable missile launches, only increase the dangers to us all," he said.
President Donald Trump has in recent weeks ordered an aircraft carrier and other Navy vessels into the region in a show of force to deter North Korea, which on Tuesday conducted large-scale, live-fire artillery drills.
On Wednesday, the White House hosted all 100 senators for a classified briefing on North Korea by Trump's secretary of state, defense secretary, and the top general and national intelligence director.
The briefing team was to meet later with House members in the Capitol.
The most recent previous Minuteman 3 launch was in early February.
Merkel is to relinquish power after German elections on 26 September, bringing an end to her 16 years in office that has seen her work with four different French leaders
The North is under international sanctions for its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes, which it says it needs to defend against a US invasion
The North Korean missile tests came as Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi was in Seoul