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Published: Tue, April 11, 2017
Global Media | By Abel Hampton

U.S. carrier strike group heads toward Korea

U.S. carrier strike group heads toward Korea

The orders come as observers warn of a growing risk of accidental conflict on the peninsula.

The strike group has participated in numerous exercises with Japan and the South Korea and conducted routine patrol operations in the South China Sea since its January 5 deployment from San Diego, California, the Navy statement said. The fleet had been heading to Australia to undertake military exercises.

The North has conventional artillery massed on its side of the demilitarized zone that bisects the Korean Peninsula, giving it the capacity to inflict serious damage on greater Seoul, a metropolitan area of 20 million people that lies just 30 miles south of the demilitarized zone.

The US has close to 30,000 troops stationed in South Korea, and US warships routinely make shows of force near the peninsula.

The communist state has attempted four missile launches this year, including a medium-range missile test on Wednesday, shortly before President Donald Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping met for a summit.

In a statement late on Saturday, the U.S. navy's Third Fleet said the strike group had been directed to sail north, but it did not specify the destination.

On Fox News, Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, Trump's national security adviser, defended the deployment, describing North Korea as a "rogue regime" with a "pattern of provocative behavior". He didn't specify North Korea, but the context was clear enough.

"Both of those are very troubling in their own right, but when you combine the two of them, the potential to weaponize from a nuclear perspective ... that's what I hear and see as being the most consequential concern from virtually every country in the region", Swift said. The North has long claimed that the U.S.is preparing some kind of assault against it and justifies its nuclear weapons as defensive in nature. All those moves were open to misinterpretation and greatly raised the stakes for conflict, analysts said.

In appearances on the Sunday news shows, Tillerson said advances in North Korea's ballistic missile program concerned the US the most. "The enhanced military strike ability and the increasingly provocative words from the Kim regime make the U.S. uneasy".

The move will raise tensions in the region and comes hard on the heels of a United States missile strike on Syria that was widely interpreted as putting Pyongyang on warning over its refusal to abandon its nuclear ambitions. Among the topics of discussion was the vexing problem of North Korea.

"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", U.S. Pacific Command spokesman Dave Benham said, according to the BBC.

Observers said China was monitoring the situation closely.

Moreover, North Korea has criticized the recent airstrike by the USA on a Syrian government target.

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