An unarmed missile capable of sending a nuclear bomb across the world was launched Wednesday from a California military base amid rising tensions between the US and North Korea. The unarmed Minuteman 3 intercontinental ballistic missile blasted off from a silo at 12:02am from Vandenberg Air Force Base and delivered a single re-entry vehicle to a target about 4,200 miles away at Kwajalein Atoll in the Pacific Ocean, the Air Force Global Strike Command said. The test took 10 months to plan. It was the latest aimed at checking the readiness and accuracy of a weapon system that forms part of the US nuclear force. The US has about 450 of the missiles. Each can travel about 8,000 miles. It was the second such launch in seven days, the AP reports.
The launches came amid US expressions of concern about North Korea's nuclear capability. Per the Los Angeles Times, the Air Force said the purpose of Wednesday's test was to ensure the missile is reliable and can function as an "effective nuclear deterrent." New missile tests by North Korea and its progress toward developing a nuclear weapon capable of hitting the US have made it one of the top US national security concerns. The US has sent warships to the region to deter North Korea from conducting another nuclear test. But President Trump on Monday said he might be willing to meet with Kim Jong Un. "If it would be appropriate for me to meet with him, I would absolutely, I would be honored to do it," Trump told Bloomberg News. (Read more missile stories.)