US successfully tests unarmed ICBM

United States tests unarmed intercontinental ballistic missile, says test launch has nothing to do with North Korea.

Chana Roberts ,

US launches unarmed Minutemen 3 ICBM
US launches unarmed Minutemen 3 ICBM

The US Air Force on Wednesday successfully launched an unarmed intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) from California.

The fourth test this year, the Minuteman III missile was launched at 2:10a.m. local time on Wednesday from California's Vandenberg Air Force Base, located approximately 130 miles (209 kilometers) northwest of Los Angeles.

Previous tests this year were held in February, April, and May. A missile interceptor was successfully tested in May, in addition to the four missile tests.

The 80,0000-pound missile with a 6,000-mile range flew across the Pacific Ocean until it reached its Kwajalein Atoll target 4,200 miles out, the Air Force Global Strike Command said.

However, the US emphasized that the missile test was not connected to North Korea's own tests. These tests had been planned a while back, they said.

"While not a response to recent North Korean actions, the test demonstrates that the United States' nuclear enterprise is safe, secure, effective and ready to be able to deter, detect and defend against attacks on the United States and its allies," the Air Force said in a statement.

"'These test launches verify the accuracy and reliability of the ICBM weapon system, providing valuable data to ensure a continued safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent."

On Monday, US President Donald Trump said, "We'll handle North Korea. We're going to be able to handle them. It will be handled. We handle everything." Also on Monday, US officials determined that North Korean missiles - such as the one tested on Friday - are capable of reaching across the entire US mainland.

The Minutemen missiles have been part of the US nuclear arsenal since 1962. First developed during the Cold War, they became combat-ready in 1970 and can be fitted with W87 nuclear warheads capable of delivering a blast over 30 times as powerful as Little Boy. The US is believed to posses approximately 450 Minutemen missiles.

On Wednesday, the US announced a travel ban to North Korea.