The U.S. Air Force on Tuesday launched an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, according to the Air Force Global Strike Command. The missile traveled 4,200 miles to a test range near the Marshall Islands. The launch, which occurred at 12:49 a.m. PT, was part of routine and periodic activities intended to demonstrate that the United States’ nuclear deterrent is safe, secure, reliable and effective to deter twenty-first century threats and reassure our allies. Such tests have occurred more than 300 times before; this test was not the result of current world events.”
The US initially planned to test an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on August 4, according to a spokesman for the US Air Force Global Strike Command. But the launch was delayed after the US raised concerns about China’s response to a visit by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to Taiwan on July 8. CNN confirmed at the time that it was a “prudent step.” The US regularly tests its ICBMs to verify their accuracy and reliability. “Make no mistake – our nuclear triad is the cornerstone of the national security of our country and of our allies around the globe,” Col. Chris Cruise, 576th Flight Test Squadron Commander, said in a statement. “This scheduled test launch is demonstrative of how our nation’s ICBMs maintain an unwavering vigilance over their targets from strategic locations across our great nation.”
The Minuteman III is the only land-based leg of the United States’ nuclear triad. The other two parts are the Trident submarine-launched ballistic missile and nuclear weapons carried by long-range strategic bombers.