WASHINGTON – Amid mounting tensions with North Korea, the Pentagon has delayed an intercontinental ballistic missile test that had been planned for next week at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, a senior defense official said Saturday.
The official said Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel decided to put off the long-planned Minuteman 3 test until sometime next month because of concerns the launch could be misinterpreted and exacerbate the Korean crisis. The test was not connected to the ongoing U.S.-South Korean military exercises that have stoked North Korean anger.
North Korea’s military warned last week that it was authorized to attack the U.S. using “smaller, lighter and diversified” nuclear weapons. And South Korean officials say North Korea has moved at least one missile with “considerable range” to its east coast — possibly the untested Musudan missile, believed to have a range of 1,800 miles. U.S. officials have said the missile move suggests a North Korean launch could be imminent and thus fuels worries in the region.
Meanwhile, McClatchy News reported that a televised broadcast showed that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un had ordered its military to increase artillery production.