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Missile interceptor test planned as tensions rise between U.S., North Korea

By Elizabeth Shim
Missile interceptor test planned as tensions rise between U.S., North Korea
North Korea expressed outrage after the U.S. Air Force announced the successful launch of an unarmed intercontinental ballistic missile, the Minuteman III last week. The Air Force tested another ICBM early Wednesday, and the U.S. Missile Defense Agency has plans to test an anti-ballistic missile. File Photo by Ian Dudley/U.S. Air Force/UPI

May 3 (UPI) -- The Pentagon is ready to test a missile interceptor, according to the U.S. Missile Defense Agency on Tuesday.

Rear Admiral Jon Hill, deputy director of the agency, told a gathering at "Missile Defense Day" on Capitol Hill the training would take place "later this month," Bloomberg reported.

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But Hill denied any connection to the planned test and North Korea's recent missile provocations.

The deputy director said the test has "been planned for a while."

The drill may take place either in late May or June 1, according to the report.

The next test of a missile interceptor will be the first in three years.

The last test, a success, was conducted in June 2014, and two tests ended in failure in 2010.

The Missile Defense Agency said flaws in the $36-billion system of ground-based missile defense have been fixed, while other repairs are in progress.

There is no guarantee, however, the interceptors can shoot down a hypothetical North Korea intercontinental ballistic missile, the Pentagon's weapons testing office has said.

The U.S. Air Force has been stepping up tests of unarmed ICBMs.

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About a week after a Minuteman III missile was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, another test of the same missile was conducted early Wednesday.

The tests are taking place "to validate and verify the effectiveness, readiness and accuracy of the weapon system" the Air Force Global Strike Command said in a statement.

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