Navy strike group arrives in Sea of Japan
The U.S. Navy strike group heading toward the Korean Peninsula entered the Sea of Japan on Saturday, according to Japanese news outlet NHK.
The U.S. Navy published a photo on Friday of the strike group moving through the Philippine Sea en route to the Sea of Japan, and the U.S. Pacific Fleet reportedly said it arrived in the area shortly thereafter.
NEW: USS Carl Vinson strike group reaches Sea of Japan, nearly three weeks after announcement it would head there, US Pacific Fleet says. pic.twitter.com/yLVf2NoaEZ
— ABC News (@ABC) April 29, 2017
The deployment comes amid heightened concerns over North Korea’s rapidly advancing nuclear and missiles programs.
The U.S. announced earlier this month that it would send the strike group, led by the USS Carl Vinson, into the Sea of Japan – know in South Korea as the East Sea – in an effort to deter North Korean aggression in the region.
The move heightened tensions between the U.S. and Pyongyang, which threatened a nuclear strike against the U.S. if provoked.
But shortly after the plan was announced, reports emerged that the carrier group was actually heading in the opposite direction of the Korean Peninsula, moving southwest to join the Australian Navy for joint exercises in the Indian Ocean.
In response to the confusion, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said that the strike group would eventually make its way into the Sea of Japan, though it hadn’t yet.
Pyongyang launched what is believed to be a medium-range ballistic missile on Saturday, the regime’s latest weapons test. The missile blew up over North Korean territory shortly after takeoff, U.S. and South Korean officials said.
–This report was updated on April 30 at 11:51 a.m.
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