A U.S. Navy carrier strike group is sailing toward the Korean peninsula as tensions with North Korea rise.
The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Wayne E. Meyer and USS Michael Murphy, and the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain are on their way to Korea.
“We feel the increased presence is necessary,” a U.S. official told Reuters.
North Korea’s Rodong Sinmun, a state paper, promised “big” events in April that will be “remembered in the national history.” The events in question could be anything from a massive military parade to the test of an intercontinental ballistic missile to another nuclear weapons test.
Since President Donald Trump took office, North Korea has become increasingly provocative. The North has launched seven ballistic missiles, tested multiple rocket engines for a possible long-range missile, and even made preparations for what could be a sixth nuclear test, activities banned by the United Nations.
In response to a chemical weapons attack attributed to the Syrian regime, Trump launched a cruise missile strike on a Syrian airbase Thursday, sending the message that countries that there will be consequences if a country decides to “cross the line.”
The missile strike on Syria demonstrates “President Trump is willing to act when governments and actors cross the line,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson explained after the strikes. “It is clear that President Trump made that statement to the world tonight.”
Over the years, North Korea has crossed a lot of lines, with numerous ballistic missile and five nuclear tests. North Korea called the strike on Syria “unforgivable,” asserting that Trump’s actions proved that the North’s decision to develop nuclear weapons was “the right choice a million times over.”
The Trump administration recently completed a North Korea policy review. The plan appears to call for stronger sanctions and increased pressure on China to rein in North Korea; however, if the situation escalates, there may be more aggressive options on the table. Multiple high-ranking military officials told NBC that alternative options could include deploying nuclear missiles in South Korea, or even eliminating Kim Jong-un.
The North Korea problem is one that has puzzled world leaders for decades. The failed policies of past presidents were unable to curb the reclusive regime’s nuclear ambitions, and now the threat is becoming more serious as the ranges of North Korea’s ballistic missiles grow and the explosive yields of its nuclear weapons rise.
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