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USS Carl Vinson carrier group expected off Korea at end of April
21 April 2017, 04:41 | Erica Roy
S Air Force Getty Images
A spokesman for the Pacific Command linked the deployment directly to the "number one threat in the region", North Korea, and its "reckless, irresponsible and destabilizing program of missile tests and pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability".
In remarks to reporters at the Pentagon on April 11th, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis said that "she's stationed there in the western Pacific for a reason".
US Navy officials speaking from Pearl Harbor and Washington told Defense News, "off the record", that they were awestruck when they saw reports that the Vinson was sailing toward the Korean Peninsula, telling the news outlet, "we've made no such statement".
And a picture dated April 15 shows the Vinson in the Sunda Strait, which separates the Indonesian islands of Java and Sumatra.
As worries deepened last week about whether North Korea would conduct a missile test, the White House declared that ordering a United States aircraft carrier into the Sea of Japan would send a powerful deterrent signal and give President Donald Trump more options in responding to the North's provocative behaviour. The Reagan is evidently undergoing maintenance at a base near Tokyo, and the Nimitz is floating around Southern California - a far cry from showing up to face down Pyongyang's saber-rattling in the Sea of Japan or the Yellow Sea.
The official added that the strike group wouldn't be in the region before next week at the earliest.
Except, in this case, as The New York Timesreported, the "presence" was in fact absence since the Carl Vinson was going in the opposite direction and thousands of miles from North Korea's coast.
The White House would not comment on the gaffe, referring questions to the Pentagon.
Trump on Tuesday said that the US wants peace with North Korea, but added that the success of any peaceful solution to the heightened tensions will be contingent on whether North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is willing to pursue such a route. It's prudent. But it does a lot of things.
"But I think when you see a carrier group steaming into an area like that, the forward presence of that is clearly, through nearly every instance, a huge deterrence".
The strike group has been conducting drills with the Australian navy in recent days, the official said.
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