Movement of US Navy strike group a reaction to North Korea - McMaster

Cheryl Sanders
April 10, 2017

A U.S. Navy strike group, which includes the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier, is heading toward the Korean peninsula, a U.S. official said.

"It's prudent to do it, isn't it?"

In a statement, U.S. Pacific Command spokesman David Benham said the Carl Vinson Strike Group set sail toward the peninsula from Singapore.

On Saturday, Kim declared that North Korea was "on the brink of war" with the USA and would deliver "the most ruthless blow", in response to reports that a high-level defector has urged Trump to assassinate him.

Before the dust had settled at the bombed out Syrian military base in Shayrat, speculation began over how President Trump's quick response to Bashar al-Assad's latest deadly chemical attack would impact the behavior of North Korea's Kim Jong Un - and what steps Trump might now take against the bellicose dictator.

Earlier this week, US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping met in Florida, where Trump urged his counterpart to do more to curb North Korea's nuclear programme.

North Korea is on a quest to develop a long-range missile capable of hitting the USA mainland with a nuclear warhead, and has so far staged five nuclear tests, two of them a year ago.

The strike group includes the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, with support from two guided-missile destroyers and a guided-missile cruiser.

The Trump administration is "hopeful" they can work with the Chinese to "change the conditions in the minds" of North Korean leadership, Tillerson said, at which point "perhaps discussions" between China and North Korea "may be useful". "The US missile attack against Syria is a clear and intolerable act of aggression against a sovereign state and we strongly condemn it", a government official reportedly told the North Korea's national news agency, KCNA.

That would mean an all-out regional conflict that would bring the US and its allies head-to-head with not only North Korea, but perhaps with China, which has an interest in keeping the Kim dynasty in power.

Tillerson said Trump and Xi had "extensive discussions around the unsafe situation in North Korea" during their meeting at Mar-a-Lago last week.

The official said the strike group will operate in the Western Pacific rather than making previously planned port visits to Australia.

North Korea on Wednesday fired a medium-range ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan ahead of a US-China summit.

Trump and South Korea's leader, acting President Hwang Kyo-Ahn, spoke by phone on Friday, according to the White House, which said they agreed to stay in close contact about North Korea and other issues.

Earlier this year, China called on both North Korea and the U.S. to tone down tension on the Korean Peninsula - North Korea by suspending its nuclear weapons program and the USA by stopping military exercises with South Korea that inflame Pyongyang.

The Strike Group will remain under the operational control of the USA 3rd Fleet as part of the Third Fleet Forward initiative, according to a Navy statement.

The US and South Korea have expanded their joint naval drills in the region and rebadged the annual exercises from "defensive" to "pre-emptive".

A clash with North Korea could spark a wider conflict.

Other reports by iNewsToday