US carrier’s Korea mission: a message to the world
Experts divided over effectiveness of US tactics against Pyongyang’s nuclear threat.
Hours after the US fired a barrage of cruise missiles at a Syrian air base, the White House was quick to say that the strike sent a strong signal not just to the war-torn Arab state, but to the rest of the world, as reported in The Financial Times.
In Pyongyang, Kim Jong Un, the North Korean leader, who provoked Washington with a missile test this month, took notice. His government condemned Friday’s strike in Syria as an “unforgivable act of aggression” that reinforced its need to maintain a nuclear arsenal. The Pentagon has since decided to deploy an aircraft carrier group to waters near the Korean peninsula in a move that experts define as a show of naval power in the region.
The move to put American military might on display in some of the world’s most sensitive seas came just a week after Mr Trump told the Financial Times he was prepared to take unilateral action against North Korea if China did not rein in its ally.
It also came as Rex Tillerson, US secretary of state, prepared to head to Russia to follow up last week’s cruise missile strike against Syria.Tillerson is expected to push for Moscow to abandon its support for the regime of Bashar al-Assad.
In China, “President Xi will now have to take more seriously Trump’s threat to go it alone on North Korea,” said Dennis Wilder, a former top CIA China analyst, to the Financial Times. “It’s very difficult to know the effect of this on Kim Jong Un, but his elites will worry about a more aggressive US policy.”
South Korea said Monday that the United States' deployment of a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier to waters near the Korean Peninsula reflects Washington's concerns over provocations by Pyongyang.
The deployment of USS Carl Vinson "seems to reflect the (US) perception of the seriousness of the situation on the Korean Peninsula," said Seoul's Defense Ministry spokesperson, Moon Sang-gyun, as cited by Yonhap news agency.
Moon added that the move is aimed at reinforcing the defense posture of the allies against provocations by Pyongyang, such as nuclear tests and missile launches.
He said South Korean troops are prepared to respond to any provocation by the Kim Jong-un regime in the next few days.
Seoul believes that Pyongyang may carry out a new missile or nuclear test to mark the 105th birth anniversary of North Korea's founder Kim Il-sung on Apr. 15, and the 85th anniversary of the founding of the Korean People's Army on Apr. 25.
The United States Pacific command confirmed Saturday that it has mobilized the nuclear-powered USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier and its attack group to waters near North Korea in response to the latest provocations of the regime, which on Apr. 5 launched a medium-range missile into the sea.
The Carl Vinson has canceled a visit to Australia and is headed towards the Korean Peninsula, where it had been deployed just a month ago to participate in annual joint military exercises with South Korea.
The change of course follows US President Donald Trump's meeting with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, in Florida last week, during which both leaders discussed the need to prevent fresh provocations by Pyongyang, an ally of Beijing.