An unarmed intercontinental ballistic missile, or ICBM, was successfully launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base on Wednesday morning as part of an operational test that raised concerns among anti-nuclear weapon activists.
The Minuteman III missile was fired from a silo on the base around 5:26 a.m. The test launch was the first of its kind this year from VAFB. A similar test that had been scheduled for February was canceled.
The test was to check the readiness, effectiveness and accuracy of the weapons system, according to the Air Force.
VAFB regularly hosts Minuteman missile test launches, and base officials typically provide advance notice of upcoming tests. That wasn't the case ahead of Wednesday's launch, however, and that lack of notice was among several issues raised by the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, an organization that supports worldwide efforts to abolish nuclear weapons.
"There was little prior notice from military officials regarding this latest test," read a portion of a release sent Wednesday by the organization. "Civilians and residents living near the base, who regularly receive ample notice of missile tests, were left in the dark this morning as the missile raced through the early morning sky."
Messages to VAFB public affairs regarding the notification of the test weren't returned as of press time Wednesday.
The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation also raised concerns about the missile tests being conducted while the U.S. government remains critical of the North Korean government for developing and testing similar weapons, and the timing of the test launch.
"It’s very disappointing that the United States chose to test an ICBM today, just days before the long-awaited summit between Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in," Rick Wayman, director of programs and operations at the Foundation said, referring to the leaders of North Korea and South Korea, respectively. "If we expect North Korea to cease developing and testing ICBMs, the least the U.S. could do is cease testing its own ICBMs while these delicate negotiations proceed.”
The most recent ICBM test launch from VAFB, prior to Wednesday, was Aug. 2, 2017. That test also drew protests from anti-nuclear weapon activists.