U.S. moves Navy strike group towards the Korean Peninsula
PUBLISHED Sat, April 08, 2017 - 7:13pm EDT
Photo: Carrier Strike Group 1 (Credit: U.S. Navy)
The United States is moving a Navy carrier strike group towards the Korean Peninsula, a move that could further heighten tensions amid growing concerns over North Korea's advancing nuclear weapons program. (more)
"A Navy carrier strike group is moving towards the western Pacific Ocean to provide a physical presence near the Korean Peninsula," a U.S. Navy spokesperson told BNO News in an email, providing no further information.
One U.S. official, speaking to the Reuters news agency, said the movement is meant as a show of force against North Korea. "We feel the increased presence is necessary," the official was quoted as saying, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The move involves Carrier Strike Group 1 (CSG-1), which departed Singapore on Saturday after completing a four-day port visit. The group has the USS Carl Vinson as its flagship and is composed of approximately 6,500 sailors.
The Carl Vinson Strike Group was previously scheduled to visit ports in Australia, but those events have been canceled. It was not immediately clear how close to the Korean Peninsula the group of ships will be deployed.
The news comes just days after U.S. President Donald Trump held meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping, during which the two leaders discussed concerns over North Korea's nuclear program, which the White House has described as an 'urgent' threat.
High levels of activity have been observed at North Korea's nuclear test site over the past few weeks, suggesting that the reclusive state is preparing to carry out another nuclear test in the near future, if it decides to go ahead. The activity also follows a series of ballistic missile tests.
Also on Saturday, North Korea condemned the American strike against a military airfield in Syria as an "unforgivable act of aggression." It said the U.S. airstrikes showed that North Korea's decision to strengthen its nuclear armed forces is "absolutely right."
North Korea conducted its fifth nuclear test in September 2016, leading to a new round of UN sanctions that aimed to impede the country's ability to further develop nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. Other tests took place in January 2016, 2013, 2009, and 2006.