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US Navy sails toward Korean Peninsula

April 9, 2017

Amid growing concerns over North Korea's nuclear ambitions, Washington has deployed a Navy carrier group near the Korean Peninsula. Pyongyang has conducted five nuclear weapons tests despite growing criticism.

Flugzeugträger USS Carl Vinson
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/U.S. Navy/D. Howell

US Navy carrier strike group moves to Korean Peninsula

US President Donald Trump seeks to build up a presence in the region and boost US defenses against North Korea. 

The USS Carl Vinson super carrier was ordered to sail from Singapore toward the Korean Peninsula as part of what the US Pacific Command described as a "prudent measure to maintain readiness and presence in the Western Pacific."

"The number one threat in the region continues to be North Korea, due to its reckless, irresponsible and destabilizing program of missile tests and pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability," US Pacific Command spokesman Dave Benham said. "We feel the increased presence is necessary."

Read more: US missile strike on Syria 'carries message for North Korea and China': analysts

North Korea launches ballistic missile into Sea of Japan

Alongside a host of fighter jets are also said to be two guided-missile destroyers and a guided-missile cruiser.

The decision to allocate naval reserves to off the Korean Peninsula comes after Trump and South Korea's acting President Hwang Kyo-Ahn spoke by phone on Saturday. The two leaders reportedly agreed to remain in close contact over the South's troublesome neighbor.

North Korea has stirred panic across the region through its continued pursuit of a nuclear weapons program. Pyongyang has carried out five separate nuclear tests - two of them last year - while satellite imagery appears to suggest that it could be preparing a sixth.

Just last week, the North launched several ballistic missiles into the East Sea near the coast of Japan. 

The US has estimated that the hermit country could be less than two years away from developing a nuclear weapon.

Trump has threatened military action against North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's regime. In an interview this week with the Financial Times, he warned that the US would be prepared to act unilaterally on North Korea. That threat appeared all the more palpable later this week, after the US launched a barrage of Tomahawk missiles on a Syrian air base in Shayrat in the early hours of Friday morning. 

North Korea denounced the US military intervention in Syria, calling it an act of "intolerable aggression," adding that it justified the nation's nuclear interests.

Trump and his national security aides held talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Florida this week. The US president reportedly pushed his Chinese counterpart to rein in North Korea and do more to curb its nuclear ambitions. China is one of very few countries that maintain relations with its secluded neighbor.

ls,dm/kl (AP, AFP Reuters)