Ballistic Missile Test Launch Set For Wednesday At Vandenberg

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An unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) lifted off at 2:10am local time from the US Air Force North Vandenberg base, some 210km (130 miles) northwest of Los Angeles, AP reported.

Rather the launch "demonstrates that the United States' nuclear enterprise is safe, secure, effective" and can protect against strikes, the command said.

Minuteman missiles are regularly tested with launches from Vandenberg that send unarmed re-entry vehicles to a target area in the middle of the Pacific.

Tests at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California are typically scheduled weeks or even months in advance, but this one came at a time of soaring tensions with North Korea over its trial of an ICBM last week.

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In response, the US Air Force flew two B-1 bombers over the Korean Peninsula on Sunday in a show of force.

The Air Force insists that the missile test has nothing to do with North Korea, but virtually every missile test over the coming months will be viewed through that lens, as things become more heated between the U.S. and the Korean dictatorship.

On Saturday, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said the whole United States mainland was now within the range of the newly-tested guided missile, an updated version of the Hwasong-14 ICBM that flew as far as 998 kilometers for some 47 minutes at a maximum altitude of 3,724.9 kilometers. That missile was also equipped with a non-explosive payload and travelled to the Marshall Islands. It was the fourth test of a Minuteman III in 2017, with previous tests occurring in February, April, and May.

The US claimed the test was "not a response to recent North Korean actions". Air Force officials said that launch was an operational test to show the country's nuclear deterrent capability. The interceptor successfully targeted and destroyed an unarmed intercontinental ballistic missile launched from the Marshall Islands. "While DOD is moving forward with replacing the existing system, it has yet to make a compelling case as to why the Minuteman III force can't be reduced and the missile life extended beyond 2030".

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