An unarmed missile capable of sending a nuclear bomb across the world was launched Wednesday from California amid rising tensions between the US and North Korea. The unarmed Minuteman 3 intercontinental ballistic missile blasted off from a silo at 12:02 a.m. from Vandenberg Air Force Base and delivered a single re-entry vehicle to a target approximately 4,200 miles away at Kwajalein Atoll in the Pacific Ocean, the Air Force Global Strike Command said. The test, which took 10 months to plan, was the latest designed to check the readiness and accuracy of a weapon system that forms part of the US nuclear force. The US has about 450 such missiles, each capable of traveling about 8,000 miles.
It was the second such launch in seven days from the Central California coastal base. Last week’s had been delayed from the fall. Both come at a time when the US has expressed concern about North Korea’s nuclear capability. Fresh missile tests by the North and its progress toward developing a nuclear weapon capable of hitting the United States have made the isolated communist dictatorship one of America’s top national security concerns.
The US has sent warships to the region to deter North Korea from conducting another nuclear test. However, President Donald Trump on Monday said he might be willing to meet with that country’s dictator, Kim Jong Un. “If it would be appropriate for me to meet with him, I would absolutely, I would be honored to do it,” Trump told Bloomberg News.