USA aircraft carrier not yet headed towards North Korea
USA aircraft carrier not yet headed towards North Korea
North Korea calls United States aircraft carrier dispatch outrageous
19 April, 2017, 10:59
It turns out it wasn't - at least, not when we were led to think it was. Newly discovered photos show it was actually traveling in the other direction - into the Indian Ocean - as recently as four days ago.
On April 11, Defense Secretary James Mattis - having just met with Harris in Washington - noted that no specific incident prompted the order to curtail the exercise program and head north.
The perceived communications mix-up has raised eyebrows among Korea experts, who wonder whether it erodes the Trump administration's credibility at a time when USA rhetoric about the North's advancing nuclear and missile capabilities are raising concerns about a potential conflict.
And the announcement that the Vinson had been dispatched to the region increased tensions with Pyongyang, with its official Korean Central News Agency calling the carrier's deployment "nothing but a reckless action of aggression to aggravate the tensions in the region".
Despite multiple reports to the contrary, the Vinson and her escorts appear to have headed away from Korea last week: Navy officials confirmed to Defense News that the carrier was indeed in the Sunda Strait on Saturday, 3,000 nm from the scene of the diplomatic tensions.
A US military official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Vinson carried out the exercises after passing through the Sunda Strait and wrapped them up this week.
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Meanwhile, Pence, during a 10-day trip through Asia, said during his stop in Japan that the USA would continue to work toward a nuclear weapons-free Korean Peninsula. News reports said Japan was planning to deploy its destroyers to form up with the Vinson and its USA escorts, the destroyers USS Wayne E. Meyer and Michael Murphy and the cruiser USS Lake Champlain.
"If Pyongyang conducts its sixth nuclear test in the near future, the possibility of United States military action against it will be higher than ever", the Global Times wrote, "Not only is Washington brimming with confidence and arrogance following the missile attacks on Syria, but Trump is also willing to be regarded as a man who honors his promises". They did not go directly from Singapore to the Korean Peninsula, but made a stop in the Indian Ocean to take part in exercises with the Australian Navy.
"This goes to prove that the US reckless moves for invading the DPRK have reached a serious phase of its scenario", the statement said.
"If you threaten them and your threat is not credible, it's only going to undermine whatever your policy toward them is".
PACOM's Tuesday release reiterated that sending the Vinson north was a "prudent" move by the Navy.
Still, it was a reminder that we were 30,000 feet in the air heading toward a Korean Peninsula that is even more tense than usual. US Vice President Mike Pence is headed to Asia this weekend, with planned stops in Seoul; Jakarta, Indonesia; Tokyo and Sydney.
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