dglobalnews.com What you need to know about rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula
Published: Fri, May 05, 2017
Global Media | By Cecelia Webb

What you need to know about rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula


The USS Carl Vinson is sailing north via the Philippine Sea after completing regular exercises in the South China Sea, the Tsunda Strait, and the Celebes Sea.

The strike group also includes the guided- missile destroyers USS Wayne E. Meyer and USS Michael Murphy, and the guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain. Two Japanese destroyers have joined the Vinson, and when it gets closer to the Korean peninsula, it will also be joined by South Korean ships.

The U.S. Navy says the joint exercises are routine, created to improve combined maritime response and defense capabilities, as well as joint maneuvering proficiency.

The two ships are part of what's a growing show of USA naval forces around Asia as North Korea threatens to test more of its missiles and even sink an aircraft carrier.

South Korea says key parts of a contentious USA missile defense system have been installed a day after rival North Korea showed off its military power.

Rodong Sinmun newspaper, the official mouthpiece of the ruling worker's party said that North Korea's forces were undeterred and called Vinson's deployment as an undisguised military blackmail.

There is wide speculation that North Korea could be planning to carry out a nuclear test on Tuesday, timed to coincide with a celebration of its military's founding anniversary.

He said there is uncertainty within U.S. intelligence agencies over how far along North Korea's nuclear and missile programmes are, but added that it is not a matter of if, but when.

North Korea has conducted five nuclear weapons tests, two of them a year ago, and has carried out a stream of ballistic missile tests, in defiance of United Nations sanctions.

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The United States now relies on ground-based ballistic missile interceptors deployed in California and Alaska to protect Hawaii, but regional experts say these defenses would do little to guard US territory in the Pacific against a North Korean ICBM, which officials believe is nearing completion.

Meanwhile, the US has signalled a new confidence in their military options against the Kim regime, with US President Donald Trump himself at one point stressing that "if China is not going to solve North Korea, we will".

The report, citing an unidentified South Korean government source, said the exercise was possibly supervised by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

"If there's anyone who has the ability to bring North Korea to the table, it would be China because of the clear links, especially economic links", said Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa.

It came one day after all 100 United States senators were invited to the White House for a North Korea briefing.

Sunday's threats are consistent with others North Korea has made in past weeks. There are about 28,500 US military personnel serving in South Korea.

The U.S. bolstered its military presence around the peninsula as a warning against a North Korean provocation.

Strong words from North Korea, as Kim Jung Un makes threats toward the U.S.

In a phone conversation with president Trump, Chinese president Xi Jinping urged all parties to avoid any measures that might heighten tensions on the Korean peninsula, according to Chinese state media's CCTV.

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