USA tries to clear waters after N. Korea 'armada' confusion

Cheryl Sanders
April 20, 2017

The fleet has since turned around.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer said nothing's wrong with Trump's statement.

"We have submarines. Very powerful, far more powerful than the aircraft carrier, that I can tell you, " Trump told Maria Bartiromo in a pre-taped interview that aired April 12.

"If you are going to threaten the North Koreans, you better make sure your threat is credible", said Joel Wit, a co-founder of the 38 North program of the US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University.

On April 11, Spicer confirmed that the Vinson strike force was "steaming out toward the Sea of Japan" to give the president "options in the region".

The Donald said: "We are sending an armada".

On April 9, Admiral Harry Harris, head of the US Pacific Command, said the carrier strike group was headed north to the Western Pacific after departing Singapore the day before.

This would have gone unnoticed but for a picture of Carl Vinson posted online by the US Navy, sailing south through the Sunda Strait, which separates the Indonesian islands of Java and Sumatra.

Asked by reporters about this on Wednesday, Spicer insisted that the administration didn't say anything misleading in its past statements on the carrier, as the carrier was bound to wind up in the Sea of Japan at some point.

It also ratcheted tensions on the peninsula, prompting North Korea's deputy ambassador to the United Nations to warn that the USA was risking nuclear war with its actions on the peninsula - any hostile act is inherently a unsafe calculation when dealing with an unstable actor like North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. "It has happened; it is happening, rather".

USA media outlets have attributed the muddle to miscommunications between the White House and the Pentagon, which failed to brief the White House accurately.

That message wouldn't be sent as powerfully if Trump has told Bartiromo: "We are sending the Carl Vinson to the Korean Peninsula after it gets back from some maneuvers in the Indian Ocean". That's what we discussed, " Spicer told reporters.

The Carl Vinson is now actually headed to the Korean Peninsula and is expected to arrive in the region next week, Pentagon officials say.

Another reporter warned that USA allies like South Korea and Japan could interpret the mix-up as "false encouragement" that the U.S. was responding to provocations from North Korea.

"She's stationed there in the western Pacific for a reason".

The Navy on April 8 said it was directing a naval strike group headed by the Vinson to "sail north", as a "prudent measure" to deter North Korea.

"Both South Korea and the U.S. are in close cooperation to deter North Korea's provocations and to pursue peace and stability of the Korean peninsula", a South Korean Defense Ministry official said.

The Vinson and its carrier group will arrive off the Korean Peninsula by the end of the month, USA defence officials have said.

Other reports by iNewsToday