US tests nuclear-capable missile with the range to strike North Korea

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May 3, 2017

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.

May 3, 2017

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.

Washington has expressed concern about Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions, and recent missile tests by the North suggest it is making progress toward developing a nuclear weapon capable of hitting the US.

In response, the US has sent warships to the region to deter North Korea from conducting another nuclear test.

Donald Trump said on Monday he might be willing to meet with the country's dictator, Kim Jong-un.

"If it would be appropriate for me to meet with him, I would absolutely, I would be honoured to do it," the President said.

Meanwhile, China has called on all parties in the standoff to stay calm and "stop irritating each other".

"We again urge all relevant parties to remain calm and exercise restraint, stop irritating each other, work hard to create an atmosphere for contact and dialogue between all sides, and seek a return to the correct path of dialogue and negotiation as soon as possible,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang.

Rising tensions are also pushing Japan to consider dropping its pacifist charter.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Wednesday he hoped the first-ever change to the country's 70-year-old pacifist constitution would be enacted by 2020, and that it would enshrine the status of the military.

Under the constitution's Article Nine, Japan forever renounced its right to wage war and banned maintenance of a military, though successive governments have interpreted it to allow a military exclusively for self-defence.

Japanese troops have taken part in international peace-keeping operations, as well as a non-combat reconstruction mission in Iraq from 2004 to 2006.


Courtesy: The Independent