The United States Air Force is preparing to conduct a second test launch of a Minuteman III nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile amid rising tensions with North Korea.
The test launch, set to occur at Vandenberg Air Force in California on Wednesday, follows a failed missile launch by North Korea on Saturday; according to United States Pacific Command, the North Korean missile exploded shortly after takeoff, never leaving North Korean territory.
Last week, another Minuteman III was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base and traveled nearly 4,200 miles before splashing down in near Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.
Pentagon officials indicated both Minuteman III test launches were “long planned,” while Colonel John Moss, head of the Air Force’s 30th Space Wing, said Minuteman launches are essential to verify the status of the America’s nuclear force and to demonstrate the nation’s nuclear capabilities.
“Team V is once again ready to work with Air Force Global Strike Command to successfully launch another Minuteman III missile,” he said. “These Minuteman launches are essential to verify the status of our national nuclear force and to demonstrate our national nuclear capabilities.”
“We are proud of our long history in partnering with the men and women of the 576th Flight Test Squadron to execute these missions for the nation.”
President Donald Trump described North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as “very threatening,” and warned the American people to be prepared for the worst-case scenario with North Korea.
“North Korea weighs on me, but we have to be prepared for the worst,” he told the Washington Examiner. “We have to be prepared to do what we have to do. We cannot allow this to go on.”
With the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier battle group arriving off the Korean peninsula, and the nuclear-capable submarine USS Michigan docked in the South Korean port of Busan, North Korea defiantly claimed it will continue nuclear weapons tests and bolster its nuclear force “to the maximum” in a “consecutive and successive way at any moment.”