VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE - The US military test fired its second intercontinental ballistic missile in a week late on Thursday to demonstrate the reliability of American nuclear arms at a time of rising strategic tensions with countries like Russia and North Korea.
The unarmed Minuteman III missile blasted off from a silo at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California shortly before midnight, a Reuters reporter witnessed, headed toward a target area near Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands of the South Pacific.
Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work said the US tests, conducted at least 15 times since January 2011, send a message to strategic competitors
"That's exactly why we do this," Work told reporters prior to the launch. "We and the Russians and the Chinese routinely do test shots to prove that the operational missiles that we have are reliable. And that is a signal ... that we are prepared to use nuclear weapons in defense of our country if necessary."