A US Navy task force, led by the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson, has been directed to initiate operations in North Korean waters as a response to the country’s increasingly concerning missile launch tests.
North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un, has authorized the launch of up to six test missiles in the last few weeks. This perceived provocation has spooked Japan and South Korea in particular, a country that has long since been in a state of tense stand-off with its northern neighbour.
A statement released by Admiral Harry Harris, Commander, U.S. Pacific Command, confirmed the deployment of the fleet:
“Carl Vinson Strike Group, including Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2, Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG 108) and USS Michael Murphy (DDG 112), and Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain (CG 57), will operate in the Western Pacific rather than executing previously planned port visits to Australia.”
The strike group was supposed to participate in military exercises off the coast of Australia, but has now been redirected to North Korea.
It is understood that the Trump security team is weighing a number of options to deal with the perceived threat stemming from North Korea after up to half a dozen test missiles splashed down in Japanese territorial waters. Military analysts believe that the deployment of the mighty Carl Vinson strike group in the region is designed to send a clear message to Kim Jong Un.
Surgical strikes against North Korea have not been ruled out, as observers are increasingly convinced that the regime is close to producing a long-range missile with nuclear capabilities, able to reach US soil.
While US top brass may favor a targeted strike against North Korea’s nuclear sites, China is instead pushing for a diplomatic solution to the impasse.
If the US were to launch an unilateral attack, however, this may trigger the invasion of South Korea by the north’s army of over a million men. Seoul is within striking distance of the north’s long range artillery, for instance.
In this scenario, a region-wide conflict may ensue, with China likely to support its interests in North Korea, lending military aid to Kim Jong Un.
The development follows the decision of the Trump administration to use a Tomahawk missile barrage to obliterate Sharyat Airfield in Syria, after the country’s president Bashar al-Assad authorized the use of chemical weapons on civilians last Tuesday.