United States and North Korea 'closer to brink' of accidental conflict

In appearances on the Sunday news shows, Tillerson said advances in North Korea's ballistic missile program concerned the USA the most.

The China-US presidential summit, held at Mar-a-Lago in Florida on Thursday and Friday, failed to deliver any concrete agreement on how to rein in North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programmes between the two nations. The US forces might even carry out a strike on North Korean military facilities, the Russian lawmaker stressed.

A USA official told Reuters on Saturday the increased presence was necessary given North Korea's recent provocative behavior.

He added that the US and South Korea intend to maintain peace and stability in the region by resolving matters amicably with the North. The regime has also conducted several missile engine tests as it works to improve its ballistic missile technology.

"US Pacific Command ordered the Carl Vinson strike group north as a prudent measure to maintain readiness and presence in the western Pacific", said Commander Dave Benham, spokesman at US Pacific Command. It also has stepped up its weapons program with the stated goal of developing a nuclear-tipped missile that could target the US mainland.

"The scale of the USA and South Korean joint military drills is becoming bigger, and pre-emptive exercises send a clear warning to Kim that the U.S. can destroy North Korea if it wants", Zhang said.

"The U.S. has said it supports South Korea's policy on North Korea, and our government intends to solve all the problems peacefully", South Korean Ministry of Unification spokesman Lee Duck-Hang said during a press conference in Seoul Monday, according to the state-funded Yonhap news agency.

"President Xi clearly understands, and - and I think agrees, that the situation has intensified and has reached a certain level of threat that action has to be taken", US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told CBS' "Face the Nation" program on Sunday.

Indeed, over the past couple of weeks virtually all of the "provocation", beyond one failed missile test, has been on the United States side, with the moves seen primarily as trying to pressure China ahead of last week's visit by President Xi Jinping. And while a USA unilateral strike on North Korea from a shorter range might be more militarily effective, it likely would endanger many civilians in South Korea, experts warn.

The strike group includes the destroyers USS Wayne E. Meyer and USS Michael Murphy and the cruiser USS Lake Champlain, along with the carrier and its embarked air wing.

Pyongyang has launched an increasing number of missiles towards Japan this year, most recently last Wednesday, although South Korean analysts believe that test was a failure as the missile fell into the sea after just 37 miles.

Reuters reported the carrier will move near the Korean peninsula, citing a US official it did not identify. It is based in San Diego.

  • Leroy Wright