USS Carl Vinson sent to South Korean waters as tensions rise

Cornelia Mascio
Aprile 11, 2017

North Korea has continued work on its nuclear program while advancing its short-, medium- and long-range missile capabilities, Pacific Fleet commander Adm. Scott Swift told reporters Thursday in Tokyo.

Analysts noted the timing of the trip - North Korea is expected to hold a military parade on Saturday to celebrate the 105th birthday of its founding president, Kim Il Sung, and to mark the 85th anniversary of the creation of the Korean People's Army on April 25 with similar fanfare. He didn't specify North Korea, but the context was clear enough.

U.S. Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., expressed concern about a potential "all-options" U.S. strike on North Korea.

In a bustling week at the Pentagon and White House, American officials worked up plans to batter the Syrian airfield and prep for the president's meeting with Chinese leader Xi Jinping that began Thursday at Trump's Mar-a-Lago golf resort in Florida.

Included in the strike group are the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, a guided-missile cruiser and two guided-missile destroyers, which have the power to intercept ballistic missiles and conduct powerful strikes of their own, the BBC noted.

Earlier this week, North Korea launched a long-range Scud missile that, according to U.S. military officials, exploded in flight. "We have no objective to change the regime in North Korea; that is not our objective", he added. "We will bolster up in every way our capability for self-defence to cope with the USA evermore reckless moves for a war and defend ourselves with our own force", it said.

Speaking on ABC's "This Week" Sunday, Tillerson also addressed the missile strikes on Syria.

"The U.S. has said it supports South Korea's policy on North Korea, and our government intends to solve all the problems peacefully", spokesman of the South Korean Ministry of Unification Lee Duck-hang said, as quoted by the Yonhap news agency.

"President Xi clearly understands, and I think agrees, that the situation has intensified and has reached a certain level of threat that action has to be taken", Tillerson said.

U.S. President Donald Trump's national security team has completed a review of U.S. options to try to curb North Korea's nuclear and missile programs which include economic and military measures but lean more toward sanctions and increased pressure on Beijing to rein in its reclusive neighbor.

Despite signs of escalating conflict around the Korean Peninsula, a South Korean official on Monday morning downplayed the likelihood of a direct confrontation, cautioning that "there's no need to be anxious". China has always been an ally of North Korea, though North Korea's state-run news agency recently criticized China's "mean behavior" after it enforced sanctions on coal imports from North Korea.

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