North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un in an undated photo
Photo: DPRK Today

North Korea conducted a new weapons test overnight, firing two missiles into the sea between North Korea and Japan, according to reports from the South Korean military. The U.S. military conducted its own missile test just ten minutes later.

It was the second weapons test for North Korea in the past week, following the launch of what are believed to be several short-range missiles on Saturday. The U.S. military’s latest test was also its second in the past week, though the Air Force stresses that the timing is coincidental.

Advertisement

North Korea’s latest test occurred today at roughly 4:30 PM local time, 3:30 AM ET. About 10 minutes later, at 3:40 AM ET, the Air Force Global Strike Command conducted its own test, launching an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. That missile traveled 4,200 miles west to the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands, a common target for U.S. missile tests.

The new test is available to watch on YouTube.

Details of North Korea’s latest missile test are still sketchy, though there are early reports that the missiles were launched from the Kusong region and traveled at least 260 miles. We know a lot more about today’s U.S. test thanks to a press release sent out overnight.

Advertisement

“The test demonstrates the United States’ nuclear deterrent is modern, robust, flexible, ready and appropriately tailored to deter twenty-first century threats and reassure our allies,” the Air Force Global Strike Command said in a statement sent to Gizmodo.

The Pentagon claims that its missile tests are “not a response or reaction to world events or regional tensions.” But even if that’s true, North Korean military leaders probably don’t see it that way. There’s been true serendipity this week between the North Korea and U.S. tests, even if the timing is supposed to be accidental.

“The opportunity for a Task Force to execute multiple launches in a week doesn’t happen very often, and this has been a tremendous experience for our team,” said Maj. Travis Hilliard, 90 MW Task Force Commander, in an emailed statement to Gizmodo. “Ultimately, these launches demonstrate America’s capability to deter our adversaries and assure our allies through a safe, secure and effective ICBM force.”

Advertisement

Tensions have mounted in recent months as the U.S. and North Korea slowly return to the antagonistic relationship that they had before President Donald Trump posed for two photo-ops with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un in June 2018 and February 2019. North Korea has pledged that it won’t destroy its nuclear weapons without “corresponding countermeasures,” despite the fact that President Trump declared victory after his first photo-op.

But, again, the U.S. military says that the timing is coincidental, despite the fact that these missile launches line up so perfectly.

“The launch calendars are built three to five years in advance, and planning for each individual launch begins six months to a year prior to launch,” the Air Force Global Strike Command said.

Advertisement

An unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile launches during an operational test at 12:40 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time Thursday May 9, 2019, at Vandenberg Air Force Base
Photo: U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Hanah Abercrombie

Coincidence or not, we’re just hoping that both sides don’t escalate matters any further. National security advisor John Bolton is constantly talking shit about Venezuela, Iran, and North Korea. And given his rhetoric of the past few days, there’s a real chance he could trip on his dick and get us all into a messy war in any of those countries.

President Trump reportedly doesn’t want to start a new war, according to a report in the Washington Post, but that may be beside the point. When you start the machinery of the U.S. military in motion, sometimes inertia just takes you the rest of the way. Especially if you have no idea what you’re doing, as is obviously the case with President Trump.

Advertisement

Update, 7:45 AM ET: This article was updated to describe today’s North Korean tests as involving missiles. They were initially reported simply as “projectiles” before the South Korean military released more information.