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Korea shaken up by destination of U.S. strike group

Posted April. 20, 2017 07:07,   

Updated April. 20, 2017 07:13


It has turned out that the USS Carl Vinson, a nuclear-powered U.S. aircraft carrier, which U.S. President Donald Trump recently said was headed toward the Korean Peninsula to respond to North Korea’s strategic provocations such as a nuclear test or the launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile, actually moved to the Australian waters. What fueled the rumors of an “April crisis” on the Korean Peninsula was not true in the first place.

According to the New York Times, the USS Carl Vinson, which was on the waters northwest of Australia as of Tuesday, has just turned toward the Korean Peninsula. A U.S. military official told the French news agency AFP that the U.S. aircraft carrier was on the waters northwest of Australia and planned to sail toward the waters east of the peninsula within 24 hours. The USS Carl Vinson will not likely arrive at the East Sea before April 25.

On April 8, the U.S. Pacific Command said it had ordered the Carl Vinson strike group to move from Singapore toward the Korean Peninsula in response to recent North Korean provocations. On April 15, a week after the announcement, the U.S. aircraft carrier was still sailing through the Sunda Strait between Indonesian islands of Java and Sumatra. The New York Times quoted a U.S. military official as saying that the Carl Vinson strike group was “that very moment sailing in the opposite direction, to take part in joint exercises with the Australian Navy in the Indian Ocean, 3,500 miles southwest of the Korean Peninsula.”

It is unclear whether the USS Carl Vinson’s destination that drove the Korean Peninsula and neighboring countries into a tough-and-go situation was the Trump administration’s intended deception aimed at controlling North Korean provocations or the result of miscommunication within the U.S. administration. A White House official told CNN that the Pentagon did not provide an update of the USS Carl Vinson’s exact location, claiming a communication issue. However, the dominant view in Washington is that the episode revealed the true intention of the Trump administration that decided to focus on pressuring North Korea by changing China’s attitude rather than taking military action against the North.

Seung-Heon Lee ddr@donga.com