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U.S. to Test Launch an Unarmed Minuteman III ICBM

By J C Suresh

TORONTO (IDN) - At a time of extraordinary tension between the U.S. and North Korea, with each side flexing its military muscle and making implicit and explicit threats, the U.S. has announced the test launch of an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on April 26.

Commenting the announcement, David Krieger, President of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation (NAPF), said: “When it comes to missile testing, the U.S. is operating with a clear double standard: It views its own tests as justified and useful, while it views the tests of North Korea as threatening and destabilizing.”

“What is needed is diplomacy rather than military provocations. Threats, whether in the form of tweets, nuclear-capable aircraft carrier groups, or nuclear-capable missile launches, only increase the dangers to us all,” he added.

However, it is not the first test the U.S. will be conducting. The U.S. Air Force reported on April 13 that the 90th Missile Wing conducted a successful Simulated Electronic Launch-Minuteman (SELM) test at Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming on April 10-12, 2017. "The SELM demonstrates the wing’s capability to provide unwavering nuclear deterrence for the nation," the report said.

"The 90th MW contributes to the nation’s strategic defence by sustaining and operating 150 Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles and the associated launch facilities. A successful SELM test proves the ICBM weapon system’s effectiveness in a safe and secure manner," Staff Sgt. Christopher Ruano said.

“The Simulated Electronic Launch of a Minuteman III ICBM is a signal to the American people, our allies, and our adversaries that our ICBM capability is safe, secure, lethal and ready,” said Lt. Col. Deane Konowicz, the 625th Strategic Operations Squadron commander.

“It highlights the ground and airborne command and control elements of an electrically-isolated ICBM, demonstrating that our deployed ICBMs will respond to critical launch commands,” he added.

Ahead of the test launch scheduled for April 26, President Donald Trump told Ambassadors from countries on the United Nations Security Council on April 24 that they were going to be busy tackling problems that the UN typically avoids addressing.

“You’re going to be very busy people over the coming months and years,” reports quoted Trump saying at the opening of a working lunch with the ambassadors at the White House. They were accompanied by U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley who is the president of the Security Council in April,

“The United Nations doesn’t like taking on certain problems,” he continued, citing the Syrian regime's use of chemical weapons against its people. “I encourage the Security Council to come together to take action on all of these many threats.”

Trump also spoke of the rising tensions with North Korea, calling the reclusive communist country “a real threat to the world.” He told the ambassadors and their spouses: “North Korea is a big world problem.” “People have put blinders on for decades.”

The announcement was made by the 30th Space Wing Public Affairs on April 21. According to Air Force Global Strike Command, “The purpose of the ICBM test launch program is to validate and verify the effectiveness, readiness, and accuracy of the weapon system.” ICBM is capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

Col. John Moss, 30th Space Wing commander said, "We are once again ready to work with Air Force Global Strike Command to successfully launch another Minuteman III missile. These Minuteman launches are essential to verify the status of our national nuclear force and to demonstrate our national nuclear capabilities. We are proud of our long history in partnering with the men and women of the 576th Flight Test Squadron to execute these missions for the nation."

The 576th Flight Test Squadron will be responsible for installed tracking, telemetry, and command destruct systems on the missile.

The U.S. currently deploys some 400 Minuteman III ICBMs with nuclear warheads in silos spread across Colorado, Montana, North Dakota and Wyoming. [IDN-InDepthNews – 24 April 2017]

Photo: An unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile launches during an operational test on February 20, 2016, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. Credit: Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center Public Affairs.

IDN is flagship agency of the International Press Syndicate

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