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US Sends Navy Strike Group to Korean Peninsula

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The United States Navy has sent a group of warships to waters near the Korean Peninsula as a show of force to North Korea.

The strike group is led by the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier. It includes two guided-missile destroyers, a guided-missile cruiser and an attack submarine.

After stopping in Singapore, the strike group had planned to move on to Australia, but was ordered to head north instead.

A spokesman for the U.S. Pacific Command, Dave Benham, said the move was a 'prudent measure to maintain readiness and presence in the Western Pacific.'

U.S. aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson arrives for an annual joint military exercise called 'Foal Eagle' between South Korea and U.S, at the port of Busan, South Korea, March 15, 2017.
U.S. aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson arrives for an annual joint military exercise called 'Foal Eagle' between South Korea and U.S, at the port of Busan, South Korea, March 15, 2017.

Benham said currently the number one threat in the region is North Korea. Pyongyang continues a “reckless, irresponsible, and destabilizing program” of missile tests and nuclear weapons development, he said.

U.S. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said President Donald Trump had asked him and other officials to provide suggestions for removing the threat of a nuclear-armed North Korea.

McMaster told Fox News that options will be considered “to remove that threat to the American people and our allies and partners” in the area.

He added that Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed during their meeting last week that North Korea’s 'provocative behavior' was unacceptable.

President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping shake hands at Mar-a-Lago, Friday, April 7, 2017, in Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping shake hands at Mar-a-Lago, Friday, April 7, 2017, in Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

The strike group deployment to the Korean Peninsula comes after American missiles struck Syrian military targets last week. The airstrikes followed a deadly chemical weapons attack blamed on Syrian forces.

The Tomahawk missiles fired into a Syrian airfield were launched from the USS Porter – a guided-missile destroyer deployed in the Mediterranean Sea.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the military strike against Syria was a warning to other countries, including North Korea, that “a response is likely” if they present a threat.

The guided-missile destroyer USS Porter launches a tomahawk land attack missile from the Mediterranean Sea, April 7, 2017.
The guided-missile destroyer USS Porter launches a tomahawk land attack missile from the Mediterranean Sea, April 7, 2017.

Tillerson told ABC News this would include nations that “violate international agreements, fail to live up to commitments” and become a “threat to others.”

A South Korean Defense Ministry spokesman said he considers the strike group a response to the 'serious situation on the Korean Peninsula.'

North Korea has fired off several test missiles in recent months and is reportedly planning another nuclear test. Many nations, including ally China, have condemned the tests. The United Nations has also demanded that North Korea give up its nuclear arms program.

On Monday, South Korea and China said they had agreed to place stronger sanctions on North Korea if it continues nuclear and missile tests. The agreement was reached during talks between the top nuclear negotiators from both countries.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un supervised a ballistic rocket launching drill of Hwasong artillery units of the Strategic Force of the KPA on the spot in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang March.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un supervised a ballistic rocket launching drill of Hwasong artillery units of the Strategic Force of the KPA on the spot in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang March.

North Korea is already subject to sanctions ordered by the United Nations Security Council. South Korea’s negotiator told reporters the latest discussions did not include the possibility of a military response to North Korea’s continued testing programs.

North Korea has promised to strengthen defenses against airstrikes like those carried out in Syria. A North Korean official said those attacks proved that the North needs nuclear weapons to protect itself against America’s 'ever more reckless moves towards war.'

I’m Bryan Lynn.

Bryan Lynn wrote this story for VOA Learning English, based on reports from VOA News, the Associated Press and Reuters. Mario Ritter was the editor.

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Words in This Story

prudent adj. wise, thoughtful, careful

reckless adj. something dangerous or careless

destabilizev. cause something to change of move

provocative – adj. causing a strong or angry reaction

commitmentn. promise to do or give something

sanction - n. an action to force a country to obey international laws by limiting or stopping trade

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