Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. As an unprecedented 3rd US Navy Air Craft carrier strike force heads for North Korea, the US now suddenly decides to see if they actually can shoot down a ballistic missile in flight, before starting something with North Korea they can’t stop once that red launch button is pushed.

The American military is set to test its missile defence system by intercepting an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) for the first time. Tests of the Ground Based Mid-course Defense (GMD) system follows the deployment of a 6th US-built missile-defence shield in South Korea a few weeks ago, without the permission of South Korean President Moon.

US Pentagon officials say the test is to simulate the capability for responding to a hypothetical North Korean ICBM. The surface to air missile it will try to intercept will be fired from a test range on Kwajalein Atoll in the Pacific. Despite UN and unilateral sanctions, North Korea has continued with its missile tests. It has argued the sanctions are an infringement of its right to self-defence.

The North Korea’s ballistic missile tests have created tensions between Pyongyang and Washington, with Kim Jong Un featuring commonly in discussions between President Donald Trump and Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping. Experts are still deeply concerned that not once, has anyone clarified if Russia or China have treaty obligations to the North Koreans in the event of a US sneak attack.

The American ICBM being launched from the Pacific will be faster than the previous missiles GMD has intercepted, and will be equipped with a warhead which would approximate the qualities of a nuclear warhead. GMD interceptors carry no warheads themselves but rely on the kinetic energy of their impact to destroy the incoming missile.

The American GMD is a similar missile defence system to the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) system, which was recently deployed in South Korea. Deployment of the American THAAD system in South Korea has been criticised in the country and has also been poorly received by China which believes that the system’s sophisticated radar could undermine its own nuclear deterrent.

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