An unarmed Minuteman III ICBM missile test successfully launched from Vandenberg Space Force Base on Wednesday morning, September 6, at 1:26 a.m. PT. The nuclear-capable long-range ICBM was equipped with three reentry vehicles, traveling 4,200 miles to the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. In a press release by Vandenberg Space Force Base, representatives announced,
“This test is routine and was scheduled years in advance. Consistent with previous test launches, this ICBM test launch will validate and verify the effectiveness, readiness and accuracy of the weapon system.”
While the U.S. may have planned the Sept 6. ICBM test years in advance, it did not occur in a vacuum. The test was announced on Aug 25, 2023, the day after Ukraine Independence Day (Aug 24) and in the midst of the Ukraine War.
Considering the increasing geopolitical tensions between the U.S. and Russia, two nuclear armed states that possess the world’s largest nuclear arsenals, the missile test implicitly carries an endorsement of nuclear weapons as a means of addressing disputes between states. Moreover, the landing of the ICBM missile in Kwajalein Atoll of the Marshall Islands glosses over the nuclear testing legacy in the Marshall Islands, where Marshallese people have suffered, and continue to, from the environmental and humanitarian consequences of the nuclear testing program, including radioactive fallout and ongoing contamination.
To this day, the U.S. has not fully addressed the environmental and humanitarian effects inflicted on the people of the Marshall Islands, yet the U.S. continues to test nuclear-capable missiles on their homelands.