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September 7, 2022

US set to conduct operational test-launch of unarmed Minuteman III ICBM

Adhering to new START treaty obligations, the US has already notified the Russian Government about this test.

Vandenberg Space Force Base (VSFB) has confirmed that a test-launch for the Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) is scheduled to take place on 7 September.

The US Air Force Global Strike Command’s (AFGSC) unarmed ICBM will be launched from the VSFB in California, between 12:01am to 6:01am Pacific Time.

It will be performed as part of the pre-scheduled periodic activities.

According to AFGSC, such routines are conducted to prove the readiness and accuracy of a country’s weapon systems and nuclear forces.

In compliance with the Hague Code of Conduct and adhering to the standard procedures, the US has already conveyed a pre-launch notification for the test launch.

The US has also notified the Russian Government about this ICBM test, in accordance with the new START treaty obligations. 

In a press briefing on 6 September, Pentagon press secretary Air Force brigadier general Pat Ryder said: “The purpose of the ICBM Test Launch Programme is to demonstrate the readiness of US nuclear forces and provide confidence in the security and effectiveness of thenation’s nuclear deterrent. 

“As you may recall, the last test launch was August 4th, which had been delayed. 

“So, for those wondering about timing, the two launches moved closer together due to delays from the August date sliding to the right. 

“And again, tomorrow’s launch was scheduled far in advance.”

The latest test precedes last month’s Minuteman III ICBM test launch, which was conducted on 16 August.

The previous test was deferred by the US for a few days to subside the increasing tensions with China, after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan on 2 August. 

Another ICBM test-launch was cancelled by the US in April this year to avoid tensions with Russia.

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