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US launches Minuteman III ICBM day after North Korean parade

Minuteman II launch from Vandenberg AFB
Photo: US Space Force

The US Space Force has carried an operational test launch of an Air Force Global Strike Command unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile.

The missile launched from Vandenberg Space Force Base on February 9, in a test geared toward validating and verifying the safety, security, effectiveness, and readiness of the weapon system, according to Air Force Global Strike Command.

“The airmen and guardians who perform this vital mission are some of the most skillfully trained and dedicated personnel in America’s Air and Space Force,” said Col. Bryan Titus, Space Launch Delta 30 vice commander. “These test launches demonstrate the readiness of US nuclear forces and provide confidence in the lethality and effectiveness of the nation’s nuclear deterrent.”

While the Pentagon regularly says the ICBM launches are scheduled months in advance and not related to “current world events,” the launch took place just a day after North Korea held one of its largest arms parades to date.

On February 8, Kim Jong Un presided over a nighttime military parade accompanied by his wife and daughter. The parade featured a mock-up of a new solid-fuel ICBM that was paraded alongside five new launch vehicles.

North Korea staged the parade after a record-breaking 2022, which saw the hermit kingdom launch close to a 100 ballistic missiles of differing ranges.