USS Vinson nears Korean Peninsula

Elizabeth Williams
April 25, 2017

The U.S. Seventh Fleet says the pilot was conducting routine flight operations late Friday local time during a transit in the Celebes Sea.

The Ashigara and Samidare destroyers will take part in "tactical training" drills with the United States carrier near the Philippines, the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force said.

Trump, though, has praised Chinese efforts to rein in "the menace of North Korea".

DPRK stands for the North's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

"The routine exercise is created to improve combined maritime response and defense capabilities, increase combined maneuvering proficiency, and ensure maritime forces remain ready to defend the region when called upon", a US statement released by Rear Adm. Jim Kilby, the commander of the carrier strike group, noted.

Hwang Pyong-So, the director of the political bureau of North Korea's army, made similar threats in a speech: "If they [the United States and South Korea] try to ignite the spark of war, we will wipe out all of the invaders without a trace with. our strong pre-emptive nuclear strike".

But it turned out the carrier group was not actually steaming toward the peninsula, but rather heading to joint exercises with the Australian navy. The US has called on China to do more to help defuse the tension.

The man, Tony Kim, had been in North Korea for a month teaching accounting at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST), the institution's chancellor, Chan-Mo Park, told Reuters.

South Korea and Japan are also gearing up for a conflict as war-mad Kim continues to lash out at the key USA allies.

The statement came after Pyongyang said it had successfully launched a new ballistic missile.

The North has ramped up its rhetoric in recent weeks, threatening to hit back against any provocation.

The US Navy announced Thursday that it was extending the Vinson's deployment by 30 days "to provide a persistent presence in the waters off the Korean Peninsula".

The Japanese force did not specify where the exercises were taking place, but the destroyers by Sunday could have reached an area 2,500 km (1,500 miles) south of Japan, which would be east of the Philippines.

Officials in Pyongyang contend that the placement of the USS Carl Vinson was "an extremely risky act by those who plan a nuclear war to invade the North", NBC News reported.

Other reports by VgToday

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