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Posted on: Beijing Bulletin – Tuesday, April 11th, 2017
A day after U.S. ordered a navy strike group, led the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, to head to the Korean peninsula - fears of another war breaking out in the troubled region have been high.
The strike group is making its way toward the Korean peninsula after U.S. President Donald Trump warned that the policy of ‘strategic patience’ with the North Korean regime was over.
The show of force by the U.S. also comes merely days after it bombed a Syrian airbase, provoked by a chemical attack that claimed over 86 lives last week.
The strike group includes the U.S. aircraft carrier, two missile destroyers, a cruiser and 74 warplanes.
The action by the U.S. also comes amid rising tensions over Kim Jong Un’s nuclear ambitions and his display of nuclear might since the start of the year.
However, easing tensions, Lee Duck-hang, the spokesman of the South Korean Ministry of Unification said on Monday that there is no threat of war on Korean peninsula as Washington supports South Korea’s policy on peaceful settlement of tensions with North Korea.
Duck-hang was quoted as saying in a report in the Yonhap news agency, “There is no need to be worried much … The U.S. has said it supports South Korea’s policy on North Korea, and our government intends to solve all the problems peacefully.”
Seoul said that it believes it is important to settle tensions through a political process, and the spokesman added that the restrictive measures against North Korea are designed to engage Pyongyang in dialogue.
Lee stressed repeatedly, “It is not meant to result in the possibility of military tension and confrontation.”
Earlier on Sunday, U.S. National Security Adviser Lt. Gen. Herbert McMaster had stated that Trump had ordered for the preparation of all possible options to protect the U.S. and its allies from the ever-mounting North Korean nuclear threat.
While Trump ordered for preparing of options to destroy Kim Jong Un and end his nuclear ambitions, Seoul is adamant on avoiding war or war-like situations.
Yet, the joint military drills between U.S., South Korea and Japan intensify, as does the installation of the controversial THAAD anti-missile system.
Pyongyang insists that the huge joint military naval exercises are an invasion rehearsal and has branded it “reckless”, arguing that it was driving the Korean peninsula to the “brink of war.”
Japan, South Korea and the U.S., however, argued that their joint military drills are aimed at countering the threat from North Korean submarines that have ramped up the tense situation in the region.
Meanwhile, Kim Jong Un is said to be preparing for the sixth nuclear bomb tests and had threatened to launch a nuclear attack “if a single bullet is fired.”
North Korean officials indicated that the nation might be preparing an intercontinental ballistic missile test or something similar as soon as April 15, the 105th birthday of North Korea’s founding president and celebrated annually as ‘the Day of the Sun.’
Merely a day before Trump launched a pre-emptive missile strike on Syria, North Korea issued its harshest warning to date against the U.S.
North Korea warned that it is ready to deliver the “most ruthless blow.”
Kim Jong Un even officially placed his country on the “brink of a war” with the U.S.
Earlier this month, North Korea tested a liquid-fueled Scud missile that travelled a fraction of its range but led experts to believe that the reclusive nation is ramping up its nuclear arsenal.
McMaster meanwhile added, “This is a rogue regime that is now a nuclear-capable regime, and President Xi and President Trump agreed that that is unacceptable, that what must happen is the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. And so, the president has asked us to be prepared to give him a full range of options to remove that threat to the American people and to our allies and partners in the region.”
North Korea, which has been at odds with the United States since the start of the Korean War in 1950, first tested a nuclear weapon in 2006.
Tensions in the Korean Peninsula escalated after North conducted its fourth nuclear test in January 2016, followed by a satellite launch in February.
The tests irked the international community and provoked the ire of the United Nations, that imposed several sanctions of the reclusive nation.
The country claimed to have secured key intercontinental ballistic missile technologies and eight months after the first test, shocked the world by conducting its fifth nuclear test overall and the strongest one till date.
Apart from the two provocative nuclear tests, in 2016, the isolated country test fired the Musudan missiles over 20 times through the year.
The Musudan missile, with a design range of 1,500 to 2,500 miles, is believed to be capable of reaching South Korea, Japan and even the U.S. territory of Guam and almost reaching Alaska.
In his New Year’s speech, the country’s dictator Kim Jong Un declared that North Korea has “reached the final stage” in its program to build ICBMs, but western experts were skeptical about his forecast.
This week, North Korea’s legislative assembly is scheduled to hold a meeting to discuss plans to mark the birth of the country’s founder, Kim II-sung.