U.S. warships sent towards North Korea over nuclear threat

As a U.S. strike group led by an aircraft carrier steamed toward the Korean peninsula Sunday, a senior official said President Donald Trump has asked to be provided with a range of options for eliminating the North Korean nuclear threat.

The Vinson strike group will operate in the Western Pacific rather than executing previously planned port visits to Australia, Pacific Command said.

'Third Fleet ships operate forward with a goal: to safeguard US interests in the Western Pacific, ' said Commander Dave Benham, spokesman for the US Pacific Command. The North called the US 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".

Trump days before meeting Xi warned that the USA was prepared to act unilaterally to stop North Korea's nuclear advances should China be unwilling to use its leverage over Pyongyang.

The Associated Press notes: "North Korea has pledged to bolster its defenses to protect against such airstrikes".

"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.

Reuters was the first to report the deployment on Saturday.

Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump hosted Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday and Friday for bilateral talks. American administrations have long ruled out even pinprick strikes on North Korean nuclear sites or missile targets because of the potential for catastrophic damage in South Korea.

The Carl Vinson strike group, which includes an aircraft carrier, will make its way from Singapore toward the Korean peninsula, according to the official, who spoke on Saturday on condition of anonymity.

While President Trump pressed his counterpart Xi to play a greater role in curbing Pyongyang's nuclear program, the historic summit offered few details about the approach other than a bilateral pledge to work together to narrow disagreements and find common ground. He said Trump and Chinese president Xi Jinping had agreed that North Korea's pattern of "provocative behavior" was unacceptable and the USA was acting accordingly.

North Korea's nuclear and missile programs were one of the top issues on the agenda, with China and its economic influence considered key to taming the North Korean dictator. North Korea fired a ballistic missile into the sea last Wednesday. Pyongyang has carried out five separate nuclear tests - two of them a year ago - while satellite imagery appears to suggest that it could be preparing a sixth.

A statement from North Korea's foreign ministry, published Sunday, said that the attack on Syria was "absolutely unpardonable as it was an undisguised act of aggression against a sovereign state".

When it comes to putting a stop to North Korea's nuclear ambition, USA secretary of state Rex Tillerson said: "The policy of strategic patience has ended".

  • Zachary Reyes