Photo Credit: Michael Peterson / US Air Force / Public Domain
An unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile launches during an operational test at 1:13 a.m. Pacific Time Oct. 2, 2019, at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.

The US Air Force successfully tested an unarmed Minuteman-3 intercontinental ballistic missile early Wednesday.

The Minuteman III ICBM was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California by a team of airmen from the 341st Missile Wing at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana, fired across the Pacific Ocean.

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The ICBM, equipped with a re-entry vehicle, traveled about 6,750 kilometers across the Pacific Ocean to the Kawajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands, according to the Air Force Global Strike Command statement.

Wednesday’s ICBM test was scheduled at least six months ago, according to a statement by the Air Force Global Strike Command, which said such tests demonstrate the capability of the intercontinental ballistic missile system. Planning for an individual launch starts at least six months in advance, the statement said.

“The test demonstrates that the United States’ nuclear deterrent is robust, flexible, ready and appropriately tailored to deter 21st century threats and reassure our allies,” it said. “Test launches are not a response or reaction to world events or regional tensions.”

The test comes one day after North Korea fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile from the coast of Wonsan, east of the capital city of Pyongyang, according to South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS).

The North Korean ballistic missile flew about 280 miles and landed in the Sea of Japan, also known as the Eastern Sea. The launch comes a few days ahead of the scheduled resumption this Saturday of stalled nuclear talks between Pyongyang and Washington.

The missile was “believed to be one of the Pukkuksong models,” the JCS said, referring in a statement to a line of submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM) under development by North Korea, according to the AFP news agency.

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