US backtracks on ‘armada’ sailing towards N. Korea

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Washington, April 19 (IANS) A US aircraft carrier and other warships, which President Donald Trump said were sent to the Korean Peninsula last week as a warning, did not sail towards North Korea — but went in the opposite direction, it has emerged.

USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier was even farther away over the weekend, moving through the Sunda Strait and then into the Indian Ocean, as North Korea displayed new missiles and staged a failed missile test, CNN reported.

The US military’s Pacific Command explained on Tuesday that the Carl Vinson strike group first had to complete a previously scheduled training with Australia off its northwest coast. But it was now “proceeding to the Western Pacific as ordered”.

The US Navy said on April 8 that the strike group was travelling to the Korean peninsula amid tensions over Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions. Last week President Trump said an “armada” was being sent.

Following the announcement, President Donald Trump and his aides highlighted the deployment as part of the administration’s response to Pyongyang’s recent missile tests.

“We are sending an armada. Very powerful. We have submarines, very powerful, far more powerful than the aircraft carrier, that I can tell you,” Trump had said.

The move 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”.

A senior administration official blamed a miscommunication between the Pentagon and the White House when the aircraft carrier did not make its way to the Sea of Japan, also known as the East Sea, as an expected show of force to North Korea.

The official blamed the mixup on a lack of follow-up with commanders overseeing the movements of the aircraft carrier.

However, US Vice President Mike Pence was undeterred as he spoke aboard the USS Ronald Reagan — an aircraft carrier docked in Japan — during his tour of the region, vowing to “defeat any attack and meet any use of conventional or nuclear weapons with an overwhelming and effective American response”.

Pyongyang and Washington have ratcheted up tensions in recent weeks and the movement of the strike group had raised the question of a pre-emptive strike by the US.

–IANS

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