By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) - The U.S. said Tuesday it carried out a first of its kind intercept of an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) as tensions in the Asia-Pacific region escalate over North Korea's ballistic missile and nuclear programs.
The land-launched interceptor was fired from Vandenberg Air Force Base in southern California. It hit and destroyed an "ICBM-class target" that was launched from a site in the Marshall Islands, according to the Missile Defense Agency.
Agency Director Vice Adm. Jim Syring said the successful test represents "a critical milestone for this program.
"This system is vitally important to the defense of our homeland, and this test demonstrates that we have a capable, credible deterrent against a very real threat," he said in a statement.
The test reportedly cost the U.S. nearly $250 million.
On Monday, Pynongyang conducted its ninth ballistic missile test of the year, adding to regional and U.S. concerns over the country's rogue programs that run afoul of several UN resolutions.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is attempting to develop an ICBM that can reach the U.S. mainland.
Monday's test, however, was of a short-range missile that fell into the Sea of Japan.
President Donald Trump slammed the test, writing on Twitter that the North "has shown great disrespect for their neighbor, China, by shooting off yet another ballistic missile...but China is trying hard!"
Trump is seeking to gain China's support in reigning in North Korea's programs.
To date, North Korea has carried out three underground nuclear tests.