After a tumultuous week in Syria that saw a dramatic escalation in US involvement in the ongoing civil war, President Trump is taking action on a very different front. A US carrier and strike group has been rerouted, and are on their way to the Korean peninsula.
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The Vinson strike group is moving into position near North Korea in response to an escalation of the country’s missile program. The strike group had been in the area recently for the joint military exercises with South Korea, but were directed back by Adm. Harry Harris, the commander of US Pacific Command. They group left Singapore on Saturday.
The war of words recently reached a head when US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson indicated that the US had said all they were going to say about the threat North Korea posed. This move of the Vinson strike group appears to back up those assertions.
In response to the American rhetoric, North Korea attempted yet another missile launch. This time, they tried a Scud missile believed to have an extended range.US intelligence says the missile exploded in flight. The fear is that each of these failures provides the Korean regime with an opportunity to learn from their mistakes.
North Korea claims they have nuclear capabilities, and have tested a nuclear warhead. US officials don’t think the North Koreans have the capability to reach the United States, though South Korea and Japan are within North Korea’s range.
These tensions came at an opportune time. President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping met last week in Florida, and North Korea was one of the main topics of discussion. China, who remains North Korea’s strongest ally, is being urged to use diplomatic measures to talk the regime down.
Speaking on the matter after the meeting, Secretary of State Tillerson noted Trump and Xi agree about the “urgency of the threat of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.”
Peaceful resolution is the ultimate goal. Until then, The nuclear-powered Vinson, with at least 60 aircraft and close to 5,000 sailors, will stand guard. Backing up the carrier are the destroyers USS Wayne E. Meyer and USS Michael Murphy, and the cruiser USS Lake Champlain.