Vandenberg Air Force Base – Amidst mounting tensions between the United States and
North Korea, the U.S. has scheduled a Minuteman III ICBM missile test for Wednesday, August 2, between 12:01 a.m. and 6:01 a.m. PDT from Vandenberg Air Force Base. According to Air Force Global Strike Command, “The purpose of the ICBM test launch program is to validate and verify the effectiveness, readiness, and accuracy of the weapon system.”
The missile test must be viewed as a direct response to the North Korean launch on Friday, July 28, of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) said to be capable of putting the U.S. mainland within striking range. The U.S. test will come on the heels of a U.S. missile defense test, launched on Sunday, July 30, from Alaska over the Pacific, in which a medium-range ballistic missile was detected, tracked and intercepted using the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense System (THAAD). The U.S. also flew two supersonic B-1 bombers over the Korean Peninsula this last weekend as part of a joint exercise with Japan and South Korea.
Vice President Pence, while traveling on Sunday, told reporters “all options are on the table.” He further said “The continued provocations by the rogue regime in North Korea are unacceptable, and the United States of America is going to continue to marshal the support of nations across the region and across the world to further isolate North Korea economically and diplomatically.”
In “Averting the Ticking Time Bomb of Nukes in North Korea,” (The Hill, 5/30/17), David Krieger, President of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, and Richard Falk, Senior Vice President of the Foundation, posed the concept of a different kind of diplomacy. “It is time to abandon coercive diplomacy and develop an approach that can be described as restorative diplomacy. Coercive diplomacy relies on a zero/sum calculus consisting of military threats, sanctions, and a variety of punitive measures. Restorative diplomacy adopts a win/win approach that seeks to find mutual benefits for both sides, restructuring the relationship so as to provide security for the weaker side and stability for the stronger side. The challenge to the political imagination is to find the formula for translating this abstract goal into viable policy options.”
It is significant to note that the missile tests by both countries come just three weeks after 122 nations gathered at the United Nations and formally adopted the “Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons,” a treaty that categorically prohibits the possession, use, and threat of use of nuclear weapons. Considered an historic step toward creating a safer and more secure world, the treaty expresses deep concern “about the catastrophic humanitarian consequences that would result from any use of nuclear weapons.” It further recognizes “the consequent need to completely eliminate such weapons, which remains the only way to guarantee that nuclear weapons are never used again under any circumstances.”
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