US Test Fires Nuclear Ballistic Missile During Tensions With North Korea

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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.

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 U.S. nuclear force. The US has about 450 such missiles.

It was the second such launch in seven days from the Central California coastal base. Last week’s had been pushed back from the autumn.

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.

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