Pentagon announces ICBM test

The US military has set its latest Minuteman III missile launch to “showcase” its nuclear capability

The Pentagon has announced the latest test of the Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile, saying the ICBM will be launched to demonstrate the capability of the US nuclear arsenal.

The launch will take place on Wednesday at the Vandenberg Space Force Base in Southern California, Pentagon spokesman Brigadier General Pat Ryder said on Tuesday in a press briefing. He noted that the silo-launched missile will be tested without a warhead attached.

“This launch showcases the redundancy and reliability of our strategic-deterrence system while sending a visible message of assurance to allies,” Ryder told reporters.

The test comes less than two months after the US Air Force Global Strike Command launched a Minuteman III from the same base. Like the last launch, Wednesday’s test is described as prescheduled and “routine.” However, it comes amid rising geopolitical tensions as the Russia-Ukraine conflict drags on, the Israel-Hamas war escalates, and US-China relations continue to deteriorate.

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Pentagon defends ICBM test decision

Washington canceled or delayed at least two ICBM tests last year, citing concerns about potential “misunderstandings” with Russia and China. An August 2022 launch was delayed because it would have come at the same time that Chinese forces were holding drills off the coast of Taiwan. Four months earlier, the Pentagon said it had canceled a Minuteman III test because “it would be irresponsible” to disregard the risks of escalating the Ukraine crisis at a time when Russian nuclear forces were on high alert.

The Minuteman III was first deployed in 1970 and was originally meant to be in service for only about ten years, but it has instead been modernized. Its replacement, the Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD), is scheduled to be available for use in 2029, but Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall told US lawmakers earlier this year that it will be a “challenge” to have the new ICBM ready in time.

Ryder also updated reporters on the recent spate of drone and rocket attacks on US bases in the Middle East, which the Pentagon has blamed on Iranian-backed militias. He said there had been 27 attacks, including 16 in Iraq and 11 in Syria. He said six of the attacks occurred after the US launched airstrikes against two facilities in eastern Syria allegedly used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps last week. None of the attacks since that time have injured US troops or damaged infrastructure at US bases.

READ MORE: US to ‘modernize’ its top nuclear bomb

“We know that these groups are funded, trained, sponsored by the Iranian government, and we hold the Iranian government responsible for that,” Ryder said.

Top UN official resigns over body’s failure to stop ‘genocide’ of Palestinians

The organization has “surrendered to the power of the US” and given in to the “Israeli lobby,” Craig Mokhiber has said

The director of the UN’s human rights office (OHCHR) in New York, Craig Mokhiber, has resigned from his post, citing the body’s failure to properly address the Israel-Palestine crisis. Instead of doing its job, the UN has “surrendered to the power of the US” and given in to the “Israeli lobby,” while the “European, ethno-nationalist, settler colonial project in Palestine has entered its final phase,” the senior official argued.

“Once again, we are seeing a genocide unfolding before our eyes, and the Organization that we serve appears powerless to stop it,” Mokhiber said in a letter to UN High Commissioner on Human Rights Volker Turk, published on Tuesday.

The official squarely described the ongoing Israeli action in the Gaza Strip as “genocide,” acknowledging that this word “has often been subject to political abuse.”

“But the current wholesale slaughter of the Palestinian people, rooted in an ethno-nationalist settler colonial ideology … leaves no room for doubt or debate,” Mokhiber argued.

This is a text-book case of genocide. The European, ethno-nationalist, settler colonial project in Palestine has entered its final phase, toward the expedited destruction of the last remnants of indigenous Palestinian life in Palestine.

The governments of the US, the UK, and “much of Europe are wholly complicit in the horrific assault,” not only through a mere failure to fulfill their international obligations but by “actively arming the assault, providing economic and intelligence support, and giving political and diplomatic cover for Israel’s atrocities,” Mokhiber stated. The “cover” is further reinforced by “Western corporate media, increasingly captured and state-adjacent,” which has been “continuously dehumanizing Palestinians to facilitate the genocide, and broadcasting propaganda for war and advocacy of national, racial, or religious hatred,” he stressed.

Respect! The Director of the NY Office of UN High Commissioner of Human Rights just resigned: “Once again, we are seeing a genocide unfolding before our eyes, and the Organization that we serve appears powerless to stop it.” Letter below-

— Mona Fawaz (@mona_fawaz) October 31, 2023

Mokhiber believes the UN used to have “principles” and “authority” rooted in the body’s “integrity,” such as during apartheid in South Africa, but it has lost all of the above over the years. The UN has repeatedly failed to stop genocides, Mokhiber noted, listing events in Rwanda and Bosnia, the genocide of the Yazidis by the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS), and the Rohingya in Myanmar as examples.

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EU may become complicit in ‘genocide’ – Spanish official

“In recent decades, key parts of the UN have surrendered to the power of the US and to the fear of the Israel Lobby, to abandon these principles, and to retreat from international law itself. We have lost a lot in this abandonment, not least our own global credibility. But the Palestinian people have sustained the biggest losses as a result of our failures,” he stated.

To fix the situation, the UN should “learn from the principled stance taken in cities around the world in recent days as masses of people stand up against the genocide, even at risk of beatings and arrest,” he suggested. Apart from that, he called upon the body to drop the “illusory two-state solution,” advocating the creation of a “single, democratic, secular state in all of historic Palestine,” which would ensure the “dismantling” of Israel, described by the official as a “deeply racist, settler-colonial project.”

Yemen confirms joining Israel-Gaza conflict

The Houthis said they intend to support the Palestinians with missile and drone strikes

The Houthi government in Sanaa said on Tuesday that it has launched drones and missiles against Israel in support of the Palestinian cause and will continue doing so. At least one missile flew over Saudi Arabia, putting the kingdom’s air defenses on alert.

“Our Armed Forces launched a large batch of ballistic and cruise missiles and a large number of drones at various targets of the Israeli enemy in the occupied territories,” said Brigadier General Yahya Saree, the spokesman for the Yemeni Armed Forces.

Tuesday’s launch was “the third operation in support of our oppressed brethren in Palestine,” Saree said, adding that the Houthi military “will continue to carry out more qualitative strikes with missiles and drones until the Israeli aggression stops.”

Yemen undertook the campaign “out of a sense of religious, moral, humanitarian and national responsibility, and in response to the demands of our Yemeni people and the demands of free peoples, and to provide relief to our oppressed people in Gaza,” according to the spokesman.

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“The position of our Yemeni people towards the Palestinian issue is firm and principled, and that the Palestinian people have the full right to self-defense in pursuit of their full legitimate rights,” Saree added.

The Israeli military has recently deployed ground troops into Gaza, following weeks of artillery and air strikes, in pursuit of its war on Hamas – a Palestinian militant group responsible for the October 7 incursion into nearby Israeli settlements.

The effect of Tuesday’s missile and drone strike was unknown. At least one missile crashed in the deserts of Jordan, causing no damage or casualties.

For the first time, however, the missiles flew over Saudi Arabia, which caused the kingdom to activate its air defenses. The kingdom had been fighting the Houthis since 2015, accusing the Shia community of being Iranian proxies. The two sides seemed ready to make peace this spring, after a Chinese-mediated deal between Riyadh and Tehran.

Earlier this month, the US Navy claimed its ships had shot down several missiles or drones fired towards Israel over the Red Sea. The Pentagon did not directly attribute these to Yemen, however.