With a number of signs pointing to an imminent renewal of working-level talks between Washington and Pyongyang, it has been confirmed that the U.S. military has announced its plan to conduct a launch drill of Minuteman III, a long-range, three stage intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on Wednesday (local time). According to Aircraft Spots, a private aircraft monitoring company, a Minuteman III ICBM will be test-launched Wednesday from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. It is reported that the missile will fly about 6750 kilometers at a velocity 20 times the speed of sound and land in the waters off Kwajalein Atoll in the Pacific Ocean.
The renewal of test-launches comes five months after the U.S. Air Force fired two Minuteman III missiles with the same launching sites and flying route in early May. Minuteman III is considered as one of America’s three most valuable military nuclear assets, which includes the B-52 strategic bombers and strategic nuclear submarines. The only ICBM launched from the U.S. mainland, Minuteman III is capable of striking a target 13,000 kilometers away with multiple nuclear warheads fully loaded. The ICBM can reach Pyongyang from California just in 30 minutes.
Each year, the U.S. Air Force has fired mock warheads-loaded Minuteman III missiles over four or five rounds of test-launching to verify the precision and credibility of its weapon system. Some experts say that this is a warning against Pyongyang, which is escalating its pressure and criticism against Washington in the run-up to the working-level talks with the U.S.
“The meaning behind the test-launch is that North Korea cannot compete with the U.S. for nuclear capabilities, and that Washington will not be swayed by the communist regime in future talks,” a South Korean military official said.
Sang-Ho Yun firstname.lastname@example.org