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A Missile Capable Of Delivering A Long-Range Nuclear Payload Was Test-Fired From California For Second Time In A Week

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For the second time in a week, a Minuteman 3 intercontinental ballistic missile was launched during an operational test from Vandenberg Air Force Base along the Central California coast, some 60 miles north of Santa Barbara. The missile, launched at around 12:02 a.m. on Wednesday morning, was unarmed, but has the capability of delivering a nuclear warhead within an 8,000-mile range (re: just about any major target in the northern hemisphere).

According to the San Luis Obispo Tribune, the missile traveled over 4,200 miles in 30 minutes to a test range near the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. The missile flight was visible to Californians for the first several minutes after launch, and a "low rumble was audible around the Santa Maria Valley."

“These test launches verify the accuracy and reliability of the ICBM weapon system, providing valuable data to ensure a continued safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent,” a statement by the Air Force Global Strike Command said, notes the Los Angeles Times.

The missile tests are part of “the United States’ ability to maintain a strong, credible nuclear deterrent as a key element of U.S. national security and the security of U.S. allies and partners,” the statement by Strike Command continues, notes the Times.

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The operational tests coincide with similar tests by North Korea as the politically isolated nation pursues its goal of developing a nuclear arsenal capable of hitting the United States. A January interview with a former North Korean deputy ambassador noted that Kim Jong Un, North Korea's supreme leader, would "do anything, even to attack Los Angeles," notes the BBC. The sabre-rattling has increased tensions in the already-strained relationship between the two nations.

According to Bloomberg News, on Monday, President Trump announced that he would be willing to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. “If it would be appropriate for me to meet with him, I would absolutely, I would be honored to do it.”

Until then, the West Coast will be bracing itself for impact.