U.S. to Move Carrier Strike Group Closer to Korean Peninsula

The U.S. Pacific Command directed the carrier group, that includes the USS Carl Vinson, to sail north to the western Pacific after departing Singapore on Saturday, April 8, according to a Navy news release.

"The number one threat in the region continues to be North Korea, due to its reckless, irresponsible, and destabilizing program of missile tests and pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability", he added.

It also follows US President Donald Trump's decision on Thursday to fire 59 Tomahawk missiles into a Syrian airfield to "send a message" to Syria President Bashar Al-Assad after chemical weapons were used on citizens in Idlib province.

North Korea said Sunday that US missile strikes against Syria last week were "absolutely unpardonable", according to a Korean Central News Agency report citing a foreign ministry spokesman.

A US Navy carrier strike group was moving toward the Korean Peninsula as the United States boosts its defenses against North Korea's nuclear ambitions. The missile appeared to malfunction during flight before crashing into the sea flew only about 40 miles, according to USA defense officials.

On March 6, North Korea launched four ballistic missiles, which traveled over 600 miles before descending into the Sea of Japan.

Last month, North Korea said it has nothing to fear from any USA move to extend sanctions, and will "accelerate" its nuclear programmes. Another attempted test on March 22 failed after the missile exploded within seconds of launching.

"Amidst an unprecedented pace of North Korean strategic weapons testing, our ability to provide actionable warning continues to diminish", Robinson said in written testimony to senators. The White House said the two agreed to stay in close contact about North Korea and other issues.

The most recent test - condemned by Japan and South Korea - came on the eve of a visit by China's President Xi Jinping to the United States to meet President Trump.

Some observers have speculated that Thursday's missile strike against Syria was also meant to send a warning message to Pyongyang.

North Korea called it an "intolerable act of aggression against a sovereign state", and said the strike showed it was justified in bolstering its own defences. The North called the USA action in Syria "absolutely unpardonable" and said it proves that its nuclear weapons are justified to protect the country against Washington's "evermore reckless moves for a war".

"Third Fleet ships operate forward with a objective: to safeguard USA interests in the Western Pacific", he said.

The nuclear-powered, 97,000-ton Vinson, one of 10 active USA aircraft carriers, has more than 60 aircraft and about 5,000 personnel.

  • Leroy Wright