North Korea: Pentagon addresses confusion over strike group


U.S. officials came under fire following revelations that the group of ships led by the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson were thousands of miles away from Korea despite earlier statements suggesting they would be in the region to deter the North when tensions soared last weekend.

The US Pacific Command's spokesperson also told The Korea Herald by email that the Strike Group has completed a previously scheduled training with Australia and is "heading north to the Western Pacific" - without clarifying their specific destination.

US President Donald Trump said last week he had ordered the strike group to head for Korean waters. "That's a fact. It happened - it is happening, rather".

While the Pentagon sought to downplay those reports late last week, at no point did it or the White House suggest the Carl Vinson was not nearing the North to give Trump a more robust military option, should he decide he needs one.

The US Navy announced on April 8 that the armada was travelling north as a "prudent measure" to deter North Korean military aggression.

A picture from the U.S. Navy showed the strike carrier group sailing between Sumatra and Java in Indonesia on Saturday.

On April 11, the US Navy said it would take at least a week for the strike group to arrive at the desired location. Martin pointed out last week that the Vinson battle group would not be arriving in the Korean peninsula until next week, on April. 26.

The media quoted the Japanese Defense Ministry sources as saying the destroyers are likely to take part in a joint drill with the US aircraft carrier Carl Vinson strike group.

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White House officials said on Tuesday they were relying on guidance from the Defense Department.

And President Donald Trump himself spoke about the deployment, saying the United States was sending a "very powerful" armada toward North Korea. It said the change of course was aimed at responding directly to a "primary threat" from North Korea.

The U.S.is trying to ratchet up pressure on North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes.

A day earlier, Defense Secretary James N. Mattis told Pentagon reporters that the aircraft carrier was "on her way up there".

"The president said that we have an armada going towards the peninsula".

The BBC's Korea correspondent, Stephen Evans, says it is not clear whether the mix-up was a deliberate deception, perhaps created to frighten North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un, a change of plan or simple miscommunication. The Vinson, as I said on the record, was operating up and down the Western Pacific and we were doing exactly what we said.

An elaborate celebration to mark the birthday of North Korean founder Kim Il Song included an animated video showing missiles from the isolated c...