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U.S. Air Force test-launches antiballistic missile from California

The Minuteman III missile was fired from California's Vandenberg Air Force Base and traveled 4,200 miles westward to a Marshall Islands test range.

By Ed Adamczyk
U.S. Air Force test-launches antiballistic missile from California
The U.S. Air Force successfully test-fired an unarmed intercontinental ballistic missile early Wednesday morning from Vandenberg Air Force Base, lighting up the California coast. It traveled 4,200 miles to the Marshall Islands. Photo courtesy of U.S. Air Force/Sr. Airman Kyla Gifford

April 26 (UPI) -- An intercontinental ballistic missile was test-launched off the California coast Wednesday in what the U.S. Air Force called a show of nuclear deterrent capability.

The Minuteman III missile, equipped with a non-explosive payload of flight data, left Vandenberg Air Force Base in California from a Navy jet shortly after midnight. The launch cast a light over the California coast as the missile traveled 4,200 miles westward to a test range in the Marshall Islands' Kwajalein Atoll, and was declared a success by the USAF 30th Space Wing, which supervised the launch.

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The test came as North Korea increased threats that it has developed missiles capable of delivering weapons.

"Tonight's launch was an important demonstration of our nation's nuclear deterrent capability. Test launches like this one are vital to validating the effectiveness and readiness of our operational nuclear systems, so it is critical that they are successful," said Col. John Moss of the USAF 30th Space Wing, in a statement.

The California-based Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, a non-profit organization, denounced the timing of the launch, acknowledging the rising military tensions between the United States and North Korea.

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"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," it said in a statement.

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