(CBS) – The U.S. Air Force tested an unarmed Minuteman 3 intercontinental ballistic missile early Wednesday with a launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The missile lifted off at 1:13 a.m. from the base northwest of Los Angeles and sent a test reentry vehicle on a 4,200-mile flight over the Pacific Ocean to the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.
The launch came a day after North Korea fired another ballistic missile. South Korean officials confirmed the missile was launched from the coast of Wonsan, east of the North Korean capital of Pyongyang.
It flew for about 280 miles and reportedly landed in the Sea of Japan. Experts said the launch was North Korea’s way of ramping up pressure on the U.S. ahead of the resumption of stalled nuclear talks on Saturday, CBS News foreign correspondent Ramy Inocencio reports.
An Air Force Global Strike Command statement said tests like Wednesday’s demonstrate the capability of the intercontinental ballistic missile system and are not a response to world events or regional tensions. Planning for an individual launch starts at least six months in advance, according to the statement.
The launch was conducted by a team of airmen from the 341st Missile Wing at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana.