Vice President Mike Pence issued a fresh warning to North Korea from the deck of a US aircraft carrier in Japan, hours after reports emerged that the approaching "armada" Donald Trump touted last week was still thousands of miles away.
Last week, amid tensions with North Korea and the possibility that the North might conduct a nuclear or missile test, us officials, including the president, had suggested that the U.S.S. Carl Vinson was headed north, toward the Korean peninsula.
"After departing Singapore on April 8 and canceling a scheduled port visit to Perth, the Strike Group was able to complete a curtailed period of previously scheduled training with Australia in global waters off the northwest coast of Australia", a U.S. Pacific Command spokesperson told the Post in a statement.
Senior administration officials repeatedly cited the orders to rush the Carl Vinson strike force from Singapore to North Korea as a sign of President Donald Trump's willingness to directly confront a regime that has conducted five nuclear tests and multiple missile launches in violation of United Nations resolutions. "Afterwards, it changed course for unknown reasons, and that created confusion because the USA didn't say anything about it". The aircraft carrier is now expected to arrive in waters east of South Korea on April 25th, later than what defense officials had previously indicated.
Officials have said the strike group was set to participate in a joint exercise with Australian forces before heading toward Korean waters, in apparent contradiction to White House rhetoric. Though China has at times in its history conquered parts of the peninsula, they never fully occupied Korea, let alone annexed it into China.
North Korea said the USA and its allies "should not mess with us".
"Our deployment has been extended 30 days to provide a persistent presence in the waters off the Korean peninsula", Kilby wrote Wednesday on the group's Facebook page.
"There's not a specific demand signal or specific reason we are sending her up there", Mattis said of the Vinson.
Pentagon chief Jim Mattis on April 11 said the Vinson was "on her way up" to the peninsula. He also said that a US Pacific Command statement talked only about the ships' "ultimate destination".
But some questioned why the timeline was not corrected earlier given the tensions involving nuclear-armed North Korea.
On Monday Pacific Command published photos of the Vinson with captions saying it was passing the Sunda Strait between Sumatra and Java and the Indian Ocean last Saturday.
While House officials have since said their account was based on "guidance from the Defense Department", according to The New York Times.
When asked whether he thought Trump spoke too quickly, Spicer defended the statement.
While North Korea did end up test-firing a missile on Sunday, the projectile exploded nearly immediately after launch.