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The U.S. Air Force launched an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile test in California early Wednesday in a show of nuclear readiness.
The operational test launched at 1:13 a.m. from the Vandenberg Space Force Base in California, some 60 miles north of Santa Barbara, the base confirmed on Twitter.
Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder first announced the missile test from the Pentagon Tuesday and said, “This ICBM launch will validate and verify the effectiveness and readiness of the system.”
“This launch is a routine test, which was scheduled far in advance and consistent with previous tests,” he told reporters.
The Wednesday test comes less than a month after a previous test was also launched.
Ryder said the U.S. notified the Russian government per treaty obligations ahead of the operational test and noted that the pre-launch announcement was pursuant to The Hague’s international Code of Conduct.
The missile test comes as concerns over nuclear security have once again mounted amid Russia’s war in Ukraine and flagging relations between Moscow and the West.
Russia has not only threatened to resort to nuclear escalation if the U.S. becomes more directly involved in the war, but has threatened Europe’s nuclear security by stationing its troops at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station in Ukraine.
The power plant has repeatedly been threatened by shelling since Russia’s February invasion and subsequent occupation in early March.
In August, the Air Force said it had conducted over 300 intercontinental ballistic missile tests and noted that they are “not the result of current world events.”
“The purpose of the ICBM test launch program is to demonstrate the readiness of U.S. nuclear forces. And provide confidence in the security and effectiveness of the nation’s nuclear deterrent,” Ryder told reporters Tuesday.