The US Air Force successfully launched an unarmed intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California this morning at 2:10am local time, 5:10am Eastern.
The test is the fourth ICBM launched from the base this year.
The latest Minuteman launch happens days after North Korea test-fired a long-range projectile assessed by the US and South Korean militaries as an ICBM. The reclusive nation launched its second intercontinental ballistic missile in a month last Friday in "a further indication that its missiles are now capable of reaching U.S. cities", says USA Today.
The Air Force Global Strike Command's missile launch is created to test the weapon system's effectiveness, accuracy and readiness, the Air Force said.
On Saturday, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said the whole U.S. mainland was now within the range of the newly-tested guided missile, an updated version of the Hwasong-14 ICBM that flew as far as 998 kilometers for some 47 minutes at a maximum altitude of 3,724.9 kilometers.
Minuteman missiles are regularly tested with launches from Vandenberg that send unarmed re-entry vehicles 6,800 kilometres across the Pacific to a target area at Kwajalein Atoll.
The Air Force, however, said the missile launch was scheduled years in advanced and was not held in response to what is happening with North Korea. "But you are presenting an unacceptable threat to us, and we have to respond, '" he said.
In response, the US Air Force flew two B-1 bombers over the Korean Peninsula on Sunday in a show of force. The first 2017 test took place in February, involving a Minuteman III that traveled to the Marshall Islands, carrying a non-explosive warhead.
USA strategic bombers on Saturday flew over the Korean peninsula in a direct response to Friday's launch, and on Sunday American forces successfully tested a missile interception system which could be installed on the Korean peninsula. Another test was conducted by the Air Force on April 26. Air Force officials said that launch was an operational test to show the country's nuclear deterrent capability. That month, the Air Force also conducted a test of a missile interceptor launched from Vandenberg.
Days later, a third test missile launched from the base.