US conducts missile test amid growing tensions over North Korea

Ben Kentish
An Air Force statement said the mission was part of a program to test the effectiveness, readiness, and accuracy of the weapon system: AP

The US has conducted a missile test to demonstrate its “national nuclear capabilities” amid ongoing tensions with North Korea.

Military officials said the test involved the launch of intercontinental ballistic missile from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The Minuteman 3 rocket, which was carrying a non-explosive load, travelled 4,200 miles before landing at a test range in the Marshall Islands in the South Pacific.

Colonel Chris Moss, Vandenberg’s 30th Space Wing commander, said the test launch 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 move comes amid escalating tensions on the Korean Peninsula after North Korea’s decision to carry out a missile test led Donald Trump to threaten to take action against the communist state.

The US President said the North’s continued nuclear ambitions were a problem that “will be taken care of”.

If China was not able to resolve the issue “the US, with its allies, will”, he added.

The Republican later deployed what he called an “armada” of US Navy vessels to the region.

“We are sending an armada, very powerful”, he told Fox News. “We have submarines, very powerful, far more powerful than the aircraft carrier.”

On Wednesday, the US military’s top commander in the Pacific said an advanced missile defence system being deployed in South Korea was designed to bring North Korean leader Kim Jong-un “to his senses”.

“With every test Kim grows closer to his goal, which is using nuclear weapons on US cities," said Admiral Harry Harris.

"As Trump and [US Defence Secretary James] Mattis have said, all options are on the table," he added.

On the same day, both North and South Korean military forces carried out large-scale military training exercises designed to be a show of strength. China, meanwhile, launched its second aircraft carrier – a sign of its own increasing military might.

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