US aircraft carrier group expected off Korea at end of April

Cornelia Mascio
Aprile 20, 2017

In a sign of rapidly escalating diplomatic tension, the South Korean Yonhap news agency, citing a source close to the country's government, said the USS Carl Vinson, USS Ronald Reagan and USS Nimitz had been directed towards the Korean peninsula.

A U.S. Navy strike group led by the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson has finally started moving toward the Korean Peninsula after finishing joint exercises off Australia, a South Korean military source said Wednesday.

In Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told reporters he hopes "there will be no unilateral actions like those we saw recently in Syria and that the USA will follow the line that President Trump repeatedly voiced during the election campaign". Pacific Command announced April 8 that it was cancelling the ships' planned visit to Australia and instead ordering them to "sail north and report on station to the Western Pacific Ocean". National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster also said it was a "prudent" decision to send the ships to deter the North.

An aircraft carrier the US Navy said was steaming towards the Korean Peninsula amid rising tensions has not yet departed, a US defence official has acknowledged.

The White House said it based its statements on guidance from the Defense Department. That's a fact. It happened. "It is happening, rather", he said at a regular briefing.

The vice president said the US would honor its alliance with Pacific Rim nations and protect freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, the sea lanes vital to global shipping where China has been staking claim to disputed territory.

Viewing his adversaries in the distance, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence traveled to the tense zone dividing North and South Korea and warned Pyongyang that after years of testing the U.S. and South Korea with its nuclear ambitions, "the era of strategic patience is over".

"Obviously, when the President of the United States says there is military hardware going to a region in the middle of a crisis on the Korean Peninsula, the allies of the United States are encouraged".

On April 11, U.S. President Donald Trump said he was sending a formidable "armada" to the North.

CNN's Jim Acosta tweeted that an administration official blamed the mix-up on a miscommunication.

Top U.S. officials have described the deployment as a message to North Korea as it conducts missile tests and may be planning a nuclear test.

"We're doing exactly what we said we were going to do", Mattis said. Like Spicer, he said it will wind up near the Korean Peninsula to reassure US allies. He added that North Korea remains the "number one threat in the region" amid "its reckless, irresponsible and destabilizing program of missile tests and pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability".

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