Reuters, citing an unnamed U.S. official, reported on April 9 that a U.S. Navy carrier strike group led by the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson was moving toward the "Western Pacific Ocean near the Korean Peninsula in a show of force".
By the time the misunderstanding was realised, the genie was out of the bottle, with news outlets across the world reporting that the naval strike group was steaming north to scare the rogue nation straight. Pacific Command announced April 8 that it was canceling the ships' planned visit to Australia and instead ordering them to "sail north and report on station to the Western Pacific Ocean".
The move prompted a strong rebuke by North Korea, which told CNN in a statement that it would counter the "reckless acts of aggression" with "whatever methods the USA wants to take". The Navy and Pacific Command haven't dissuaded any of those reports, but never explicitly confirmed Korea as its destination or discussed a timeline.
As worries deepened last week about whether North Korea would conduct a missile test, the White House declared that ordering an American aircraft carrier into the Sea of Japan would send a powerful deterrent signal and give US President Donald Trump more options in responding to the North's provocative behaviour.
Soon afterward, PACOM spokesman Cmdr.
Joel Wit, a co-founder of the 38 North program of the U.S. -Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University, said the matter was "very perplexing" and fed into North Korea's narrative that America is all bluster and doesn't follow through on threats.
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North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un arrives for the official opening of the Ryomyong residential area on Thursday in Pyongyang, North Korea..
U.S. Navy officials in Pearl Harbor and Washington declined to comment on the ship's movements, other than to confirm the April 15 movement through the Sunda Strait. What are we doing right now in terms of North Korea?
But he added: "As all of you know, readiness is the key".
He said, "I hope there will be no unilateral actions like those we saw recently in Syria and that the USA will follow the line that President Trump repeatedly voiced during the election campaign". Very powerful. We have submarines.
THE declaration last week that the United States had sent an aircraft carrier barrelling towards waters off the Korean Peninsula put tensions with North Korea at boiling point. A highly-criticized NBC report citing unnamed intelligence officials claimed the USA would launch a preemptive strike on North Korea if signs of an imminent nuclear test were detected. News reports said Japan was planning to deploy its own destroyers to form up with the Carl Vinson and its us escorts, the destroyers USS Wayne E. Meyer and Michael Murphy and the cruiser USS Lake Champlain. As it turns out, the carrier was sailing in the opposite direction, and North Korea was preparing for a parade and a failed ballistic missile test. It also followed the country's administration criticising a U.S. attack on a Syrian air base, saying it was an "intolerable act of aggression against a sovereign state".
But pictures posted by the U.S. Navy suggest that's not quite the case - or at least not yet.