Less than two years ago, news of Russia test-firing an ICBM just as the east Ukraine civil war was heating up and was sufficient enough to send the stock market into a brief tailspin. Since then, the launches of nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles has become an almost daily occurrence, with the market hardly batting an eyelid.
In fact, it happened just last night at 11:01pm PST at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, where – for the second time this week – the US test-fired its second intercontinental ballistic missile in the past seven days, seeking to demonstrate its nuclear arms capacity at a time of rising strategic tensions with Russia, North Korea, China and the middle east.
The unarmed Minuteman III missile roared out of a silo at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California late at night, raced across the sky at speeds of up to 15,000 mph (24,000 kph) and landed a half hour later in a target area 4,200 miles (6,500 km) away near Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands of the South Pacific.
The entire launch was caught on the following video, which was released by Vandenberg just 4 days after the previous ICBM launch.
What was more disturbing than the actual launch, however, was the rhetoric behind it: instead of passing it off as another routine test, and letting US “adversaries” make up their own mind about what is going on, Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work, who witnessed the launch, said the U.S. tests, conducted at least 15 times since January 2011, send a message to strategic rivals like Russia, China and North Korea that Washington has an effective nuclear arsenal. “That’s exactly why we do this,” Work told reporters before the launch.