Published: Thu, April 13, 2017
World | By Tasha Manning

US aircraft carrier-led strike group headed toward Korean Peninsula

U.S. President Donald Trump added public pressure to his efforts to encourage China to rein in North Korea, saying Tuesday that he told Chinese President Xi Jinping that such action will help improve the conditions of a trade deal with the U.S.

James Caruso, the U.S. charge d'affaires based in Canberra, told The Australian "extreme concern" was mounting about North Korea's intentions after the rogue state yesterday declared it was ready for "war" and had its "nuclear sight" trained on America over what it sees as acts of aggression by the Trump administration.

John Park, director of the Korea Working Group at the Harvard Kennedy School, said if North Korea went ahead with a missile test to mark this weekend's anniversary, there would be questions if the US was in the region but did not try to stop it. The Carl Vinson took part last month in the U.S.

North Korea said it was prepared to respond to any US aggression.

Washington views the threat as one against the US itself too, as North Korea's nuclear and missile programs approach the capacity to reach the USA mainland.

The move of the Vinson strike group is in response to recent North Korean provocations, the official said.

China has resisted taking hard action against North Korea in the past since it has a vested interest in preserving the North Korean state, as it acts as a physical and cultural buffer state between China and the western-oriented, democratic South Korea. It regularly threatens to destroy both countries.

If the North proceeds with a ballistic missile or nuclear test and the USA does nothing in response, America's deterrence will appear diminished.

On April 5, North Korea fired a ballistic missile off its east coast, following a March 6 firing of four ballistic missiles - three of them falling into Japan's exclusive economic zone.

He ordered the military to intensify monitoring and ensure close communication with Washington.

North Korea convened a Supreme People's Assembly session on Tuesday, one of twice-yearly sessions attended by leader Kim Jong Un, and reported a successful national budget execution and personnel appointments, the official KCNA news agency said.

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Perhaps North Korea will understand when the strike group becomes a visible presence.

Saturday is the 105th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il Sung, North Korea's founding father and grandfather of the current ruler.

A military parade is expected in Pyongyang to mark the day and North Korea often marks important anniversaries with tests of its nuclear or missile capabilities.

According to Taiwan's China Post, the Chinese government may have deployed about 150,000 troops along the North Korea border on Sunday, as USA and South Korea militaries conducted joint exercises in and around the peninsula.

Days before the summit, Trump warned that the United States was prepared to act unilaterally to stop North Korea's nuclear program from advancing further should China be unwilling to use its leverage over Pyongyang.

"But I don't think a United States strike would happen and if North Korea can judge the situation, they will not continue any armed provocation for now".

"I think at this point the common interest between the U.S. and China outweigh (North Korea saber-rattling)", Alexander Neill, a senior fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in Singapore, told CNN.

"Not only is Washington brimming with confidence and arrogance following the missile attacks on Syria, but Trump is also willing to be regarded as a man who honours his promises", it said.

North Korea's foreign ministry said the approach of the U.S. Navy strike group showed Washington's "reckless moves for invading had reached a serious phase".

Trump said, "I like Steve, but you have to remember he was not involved in my campaign until very late".

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