Projectile blasts off just after midnight from Vandenberg Air Force Base, 150 miles northwest of Los Angeles – the second in a week
The US has test-fired a nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile from a site in California, the second such launch in a week, amid rising tensions with North Korea.
The unarmed Minuteman 3 missile has a range of around 8,000 miles, putting it within striking distance of Pyongyang.
It blasted off just after midnight from Vandenberg Air Force Base, 150 miles northwest of Los Angeles, and delivered a single projectile to a target approximately 4,200 miles away at Kwajalein Atoll in the Pacific Ocean, US Air Force Global Strike Command said.
Colonel Chris Moss, Vandenberg’s 30th Space Wing commander, said of the first test launch that it was “an important demonstration of our nation’s nuclear deterrent capabilities”.
“These Minuteman launches are essential to verify the status of our national nuclear force and to demonstrate our national nuclear capabilities”, he said.
The tests come amid rising tensions between North Korea and the US.
Washington has expressed concern about Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions, and recent missile tests by the North suggest it is making progress toward developing a nuclear weapon capable of hitting the US.
In response, the US has sent warships to the region to deter North Korea from conducting another nuclear test.
Donald Trump said on Monday he might be willing to meet with the country’s dictator, Kim Jong-un.
Rising tensions are also pushing Japan to consider dropping its pacifist charter.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Wednesday he hoped the first-ever change to the country’s 70-year-old pacifist constitution would be enacted by 2020, and that it would enshrine the status of the military.
Under the constitution’s Article Nine, Japan forever renounced its right to wage war and banned maintenance of a military, though successive governments have interpreted it to allow a military exclusively for self-defence.
Japanese troops have taken part in international peace-keeping operations, as well as a non-combat reconstruction mission in Iraq from 2004 to 2006.
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