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- The US Air Force conducted a test of its intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) system Wednesday morning.
- The unarmed missile was launched 4,200 miles from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California to a test range near the Marshall Islands.
- Vandenberg Air Force Base said in a statement:
“The purpose of the ICBM test launch program is to validate and verify the effectiveness, readiness, and accuracy of the weapon system, according to Air Force Global Strike Command.”
- Air Force public affairs specialist Joe Thomas told The Whim in an email:
“These tests demonstrate that our nuclear enterprise is safe, secure, effective and ready to be able to deter, detect and defend against attacks on the United States and its allies.”
- Thomas added that “test launches are planned 3-5 years in advance, and we schedule four test launches per fiscal year. Preparation for each mission begins more than a year in advance.”
- Sen. Lindsey Graham (South Carolina) spoke on Monday with the TODAY Show about North Korea. Graham said:
“President Trump has said I will not allow [North Korea] to get an ICBM with a nuclear weapon on top to hit America. They’re headed that way. The only way they are going to change is if they believe there is a credible threat of military force on the table. The Chinese are miscalculating Trump and so are the North Koreans… He [President Donald Trump] is not going to allow the ability of this madman [Kim Jong-un] to have a missile to hit America. If there is going to be a war to stop him, it will be over there. If thousands die, they are going to die over there, they’re not going to die here…
And [Trump] has told me that to my face. And that may be provocative, but not really. When you’re president of the United States, where does your allegiance lie? To the people of the United States. This man, Kim Jong-un, is threatening America with a nuclear-tipped missile. President Trump doesn’t want a war. The Chinese can stop this.”
- As The Whim previously reported, North Korea threatened to “preemptively annihilate” any country that tries to overthrow the Kim Jong-un regime.
“Should the US dare to show even the slightest sign of attempt to remove our supreme leadership, we will strike a merciless blow at the heart of the US with our powerful nuclear hammer, honed and hardened over time.”
- Vandenberg Air Force Base last conducted an ICBM test on 3 May 2017.
- North Korea tested its first two intercontinental ballistic missiles in July. The first test took place on 4 July and the second on 28 July.
- On 29 July, US bombers, along with Japanese and South Korean allies, conducted a test mission in response to North Korea’s second missile test.
- The US also responded to the North Korean launches with successful tests of its THAAD missile defense technology in July.
- The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, told the LA Times that the Vandenberg test launch “must be viewed as a direct response to the North Korean launch.”
Reactions to North Korean Threat
- On 22 July, Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke about potential military conflict with North Korea at the Aspen Security Forum in Aspen, Colorado.
“Kim Jong Un’s regime is tied to nuclear program, and what I can tell the American people today is North Korea is capable of launching a limited missile attack. The United States military can defend against a limited North Korea attack on Seoul, Japan, and the United States.”
- Dunford later addressed preparing for potential conflict with North Korea:
“Many people have talked about military options as — with words like ‘unimaginable.’ And I would probably shift that slightly and say it would be horrific and it would be a loss of life unlike any we have experienced in our lifetimes — and I mean anyone who has been alive since World War II has never seen the loss of life that could occur if there’s a conflict on the Korean Peninsula… It is not unimaginable to have military options to respond to North Korean nuclear capability. What’s unimaginable to me is allowing a capability that will allow a nuclear weapon to land in Denver, Colorado. That’s unimaginable to me. And so my job will be to develop military options to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
- Regarding North Korea, Gen. Terrence O’Shaughnessy, Pacific Air Forces commander, said:
“Diplomacy remains the lead; however, we have a responsibility to our allies and our nation to showcase our unwavering commitment while planning for the worst-case scenario. If called upon, we are ready to respond with rapid, lethal, and overwhelming force at a time and place of our choosing.”
- Sen. Dianne Feinstein (California) addressed the threat of a North Korean attack, telling CBS’s Face the Nation in an interview:
“I’ve spent time on the intelligence and at the briefings, and done as much reading as I possibly could. And I’m convinced that North Korea has never moved at the speed that this leader has to develop an ICBM to put solid fuel, to have an interesting launch device, and to have a trajectory which, as of the latest analysis, would enable it to go about 6,000 miles and maybe even hit as far east as Chicago…
We can’t have that. To me, it points out the danger in isolating a country, that they go to the science and the technical know-how to show their brute force, not to handle the isolation. I think the only solution is a diplomatic one. I’m very disappointed in China’s response, that it has not been firmer or more helpful.”
William Spruance contributed to this report.