US aircraft carrier group expected off Korea at end of April


The US military's Pacific Command explained on Tuesday that the Carl Vinson strike group first had to complete a shorter-than-initially planned period of training with Australia.

"The fact that the Carl Vinson strike group was not in the vicinity of the Korean peninsula undermines the Trump administration's tough approach towards Pyongyang".

The official added that the strike group would not be in the region before next week at the earliest - it is thousands of nautical miles from the Java Sea to the Sea of Japan.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer insisted on Wednesday that a U.S. aircraft carrier was heading toward North Korea last week, even though a U.S. Navy photo from the time showed it was actually traveling in the opposite direction.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence arrives at the border village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) which has separated the two Koreas since the Korean War, South Korea, Monday, April 17, 2017.

"We are keeping a fully prepared position against North Korea to deter any provocations, given that many political events are taking place (in April)", he said, referencing North Korea's annual Day of the Sun celebrations.

An aircraft carrier the US Navy said was steaming toward the Korean Peninsula amid rising tensions has not yet departed, a US defence official has acknowledged.

Two days after the announcement, North Korea expressed its fury at the United States carrier group's new orders, calling it "reckless acts of aggression".

"The point the President was making is that we're ready". He also warned them "not to read too much" into reports of its Korea deployment.

US President Donald Trump's administration denied being misleading about a US carrier strike group's push toward the Korean peninsula, saying it never gave an arrival date and that the ships were still on their way.

Following the 105th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il Sung, North Korea's founding father, on April 15, North Korea will celebrate the 85th anniversary of the foundation of its military on April 25. At a daily Foreign Ministry briefing on Friday, minisry spokesman Lu Kang reiterated the Chinese side's "serious concern" about "recent trends about North Korea's nuclear and missile development".

More than a week after reports first emerged that the aircraft carrier and its accompanying ships were headed toward the peninsula amid fears North Korea may conduct another nuclear test, Navy photos from Saturday show Vinson operating almost 3,500 miles away, off Indonesia. The White House is now insisting that they were just telling the media what the Pentagon had told them about the USS Carl Vinson's destination.