A US defense official confirmed that a US aircraft carrier strike group is on its way to the Western Pacific Ocean, near where the Korean Peninsula is located. According to the same official, the move is in response to recent provocations from North Korea.
Pacific Command announced that the USS Carl Vinson strike group was to sail to the north, toward Western Pacific. They departed from Singapore, and are led by Adm. Harry Harris.
This is not unusual, as it is quite common for the United States to deploy military assets to operate in the Western Pacific area. This show of force is a pretty regular occurrence. In fact, just last month, Vinson was located in S. Korea for simple military exercises.
Only a few days ago, an extended-range Scud missile was launched by North Korea. Officials from the US say that those missiles exploded in flight. However, the North Korean regime has recently been conducting several missile engine tests. This is proof that they are working toward and improved ballistic missile technology.
Last September, North Korea even claimed to have tested a nuclear warhead with success. Pyongyang says that its pursuit of nuclear weapons technology is only to defend itself from perceived US aggression.
This news comes swiftly after a summit meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and United States President Donald Trump, where one of the top concerns on the agenda was North Korea.
Rex Tillerson, the US Secretary of State, spoke on the subject, saying that Trump and Xi agreed on the “urgency of the threat of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program”, and said that working together to resolve their issues with North Korea peacefully was important.
H.R. McMaster, President Trump’s national security adviser, said as “prudent” that they move the strike group closer to the Korean Peninsula due to the fact that “North Korea has been engaged in a pattern of provocative behavior.” He also said that Presidents Trump and Xi agreed during their meeting that “it is unacceptable” for North Korea to have nuclear technologies, and that Korea should be denuclearized.
Just earlier this year, China had asked for both the US and North Korea to tone down their provocations. It asked simply for the US to stop military exercises near Korea, and for North Korea to suspend its nuclear program.
Mere days before their meeting, President Trump had made it clear that the US was ready to act to stop N. Korea’s nuclear program if China was unwilling or unable to use its influence over Pyongyang to halt its progress.
Analysts are concerned with any sort of unilateral military force from the US, however. There could be major risks, such as exposing South Korea to devastation.
The Vinson strike group, rather than undergoing previously planned visits to Australia, will be operating in the Western Pacific.
The 97,000 ton, nuclear-powered Vinson is one of the US’s 10 active aircraft carriers and comes equipped with around 5,000 personnel and over 60 aircrafts. Alongside them are the guided-missile destroyers USS Michael Murphy and USS Wayne E. Meyer. The Cruiser USS Lake Champlain is the acting guided-missile cruiser.
This comes with the Aegis missile defense system, which is the same system which has kept up with North Korea’s previously launched missiles. The idea is to use it, should North Korea launch any more missiles.