A United States Navy carrier strike group was moving toward the Korean Peninsula as the US boosts its defences against North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.
“US Pacific Command ordered the Carl Vinson Strike Group north as a prudent measure to maintain readiness and presence in the Western Pacific,” said Commander Dave Benham, spokesman at US Pacific Command.
“The number one threat in the region continues to be North Korea, due to its reckless, irresponsible and destabilising program of missile tests and pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability,” he was quoted as saying by news agencies.
The strike group includes the Nimitz-class aircraft supercarrier USS Carl Vinson, a carrier air wing, two guided-missile destroyers and a guided-missile cruiser.
The North has carried out five nuclear tests — two of them last year — and expert satellite imagery analysis suggests it could well be preparing for a sixth.
US intelligence officials say Pyongyang could be less than two years away from developing a nuclear warhead that could reach the continental United States.
On Thursday and Friday, US President Donald Trump hosted his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping for talks during which he pressed Pyongyang’s key ally to help curb the North’s nuclear weapons programme.