A US Navy carrier strike group that Pyongyang recently threatened to destroy is moving toward the Korean peninsula.
The move comes amid heightened tensions in the region, following a recent North Korean missile test and Trump’s ultimatum to Beijing that unless it reigned in Kim Jong Un, the USA would take action alone.
Navy spokesman Commander Dave Benham said: “US Pacific Command ordered the Carl Vinson Strike Group north as a prudent measure to maintain readiness and presence in the Western Pacific.
“The number one threat in the region continues to be North Korea, due to its reckless, irresponsible and destabilising programme of missile tests and pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability.”
As well as the Nimitz-class USS Carl Vinson, the strike group includes a carrier air wing, two guided-missile destroyers and a guided-missile cruiser. It had originally been scheduled to make port calls in Australia.
Last month, we reported how North Korea had released a propaganda video via YouTube depicting the destruction of the carrier as well as a bomber jet. The female narrator gleefully exclaims: “A knife will be stabbed into the throat of the carrier, while the bomber will fall from the sky after getting hit by a hail of fire”.
Pyongyang has carried out five nuclear tests so far, the latest last Wednesday, and a sixth is anticipated on the basis of satellite imagery.
Intelligence officials believe Pyongyang could be less than two years away from its stated aim of developing a nuclear warhead capable of reaching mainland USA.
On Thursday and Friday, President Trump hosted China’s Xi Jinping for talks at which North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme was high on the agenda.
Trump’s tough talk on the DPRK — the official name of North Korea — is all the more credible following his decision to bomb a Syrian airfield in retaliation for an apparent chemical attack.
This act has been described by Pyongyang as “absolutely unpardonable” and and proof that its nuclear programme is necessary “a million times over”.