U.S. Test Fires Missile Off Calif. Coast; Can Carry Nuclear Weapons, Travel 8,000 Miles

Image source: Vandenberg Air Force Base

The U.S. Air Force Wednesday morning successfully test fired an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that is capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

The test – the second one in the past week — came as the crisis with North Korea continued to escalate.

Both missiles were fired from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California and flew more than 4,000 miles across the Pacific before splashing down in the ocean. The tests came days after North Korea tested its own missile.

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Each U.S. missile is capable of traveling more than 8,000 miles.

“These Minuteman launches are essential to verify the status of our national nuclear force and to demonstrate our national nuclear capabilities,” Colonel John Moss, the commander of the 30th Space Wing, told the Associated Press.

Air Force officials said the test had been planned for months.

The missiles, which carried no payload, splashed down in the Pacific near Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands, about 2,500 miles south of Hawaii.

The missile was a Minuteman III.

The U.S. has about 450 such missiles.

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