The US Air Force conducted America’s first successful intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test of the year, firing an unarmed Minuteman III from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California yesterday. The missile landed in the Pacific Ocean at an undisclosed location.
GIF: US Air Force 30th Space Wing/Public Affairs
The test comes in the wake of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un proclaiming that his country is suspending both ICBM and nuclear tests for the foreseeable future. Kim is getting ready to meet with US President Trump in the coming weeks or months. An exact date and location for the historic meeting have yet to be determined, though neutral countries such as Sweden and Switzerland are high on the list of probabilities.
After the last test in 2017, Air Force officials announced that the ICBM had travelled roughly 6760km to land near the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. No announcement was made about where this unarmed missile landed.
You can watch video of the test on YouTube:
While North Korean missile tests regularly make front page headlines in the US, American missile tests don’t receive much coverage at all. But you can bet that it gets attention in North Korea.
Kim’s meeting with Trump isn’t the only high-profile meeting that’s coming up. On Friday, Kim will walk across the line that divides North and South Korea to meet with South Korean president Moon Jae-in. And it should be an interesting preview of what’s to come when Kim and Trump finally meet face to face.
Photo: An unarmed Minuteman III ICBM is launched from California on 25 April 2018 (US Air Force photo by Joe Davila)
The White House has sent mixed messages in recent weeks, as President Trump often mischaracterises Kim’s pledge to stop the country’s tests as a pledge to denuclearise. But the North Korean regime hasn’t made any such promise.
Diplomacy is good, but here’s hoping that Trump’s advisers, like the uber-hawkish John Bolton, aren’t setting the president up to fail. If Trump walks away from his meeting with Kim without a plan for complete denuclearisation we can only hope that it isn’t positioned by the Trump regime as a total loss. Otherwise the stalemate between North Korea and the US could turn into a very real war.
John Bolton, who has openly called for a first strike against North Korea, is waiting in the wings for his chance to pounce if anything should go wrong. In the meantime, it appears the US will continue to conduct missile tests as usual.