USA Heading to Attack North Korea?: Sending Aircraft Carrier After being challenged as Syrian attacks "Unforgivable"

USA Heading to Attack North Korea
A woman walks past a television screen showing file footage of a North Korean missile launch, at a railway station in Seoul on April 5, 2017. Jung Yeon-Je / AFP - Getty Images

The US Navy has cancelled planned port calls in Australia for the USS Carl Vinson and is instead sending the aircraft carrier toward the Korea  

North Korea calls U.S. strikes on Syria 'unforgivable'

North Korea said on Saturday U.S. missile strikes against a Syrian airfield on Friday were "an unforgivable act of aggression" that showed its decision to develop nuclear weapons was "the right choice a million times over".

The response by North Korea's foreign ministry, carried by the official KCNA news agency, was the first since U.S. warships in the Mediterranean Sea launched dozens of missiles at a Syrian air base which the Pentagon says was involved in a chemical weapons attack earlier in the week.

"The U.S. missile attack against Syria is a clear and unforgivable act of aggression against a sovereign state and we strongly condemn this," KCNA quoted an unnamed spokesman for the North Korean foreign ministry as saying.

"The reality of today proves our decision to strengthen our military power to stand against force with force was the right choice a million times over," KCNA said.

Diplomatically isolated North Korea considers Syria a key ally. KCNA said its leader Kim Jong Un and Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad exchanged messages of warm wishes and pledges of friendship and cooperation between the two countries.

Al-Assad thanked Kim for recognising the Syrian struggle to "meet such challenges as sinister actions of the world's terrorists and encouraged Syria to successfully weather the crisis without fail," KCNA said.

The exchange of messages came before the U.S. airstrikes, which were U.S. President Donald Trump's biggest foreign policy move since taking office in January in reaction to what Washington says was a gas attack by al-Assad's government that killed at least 70 people in a rebel-held territory.

Syria denies it carried out the attack.

The U.S. strikes came as Trump hosted Chinese President Xi Jinping in Florida to press the leader of North Korea's sole diplomatic ally to do more to curb Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions.

North Korea is believed to be developing missiles capable of hitting the United States and a nuclear arsenal in defiance of U.N. sanctions. It has conducted five nuclear tests -- two since the beginning of last year -- and scores of missile tests.

US sends aircraft carrier group toward Korean peninsula

US sends aircraft carrier group toward Korean
The aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), front, in a file image. Picture: US Navy/AFP

The US Navy has cancelled planned port calls in Australia for the USS Carl Vinson and is instead sending the aircraft carrier toward the Korean Peninsula amid concerns about new weapons tests by North Korea, military officials said.

The US military is sending the Vinson strike group, including the carrier and two guided-missile destroyers, to operate in the Western Pacific Ocean in response to Pyongyang’s recent missile tests.

There is widespread speculation based on satellite imagery and analysis that North Korea may try to carry out another weapons test in the coming days as the country prepares for its most important national holiday — the anniversary of the birth of the country’s founder on April 15.

North Korea carried out three missile tests in the past month, including a Scud missile launch on April 5 that triggered a terse response from the Trump administration.

“The United States has spoken enough about North Korea,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a two-sentence statement after that test. “We have no further comment.”

Now, one official said, the Navy is sending the strike group as a show of force.

The Trump administration has issued a series of warnings to North Korea about its missile tests.

Last month, during a visit to South Korea, Mr. Tillerson said the U.S. “policy of strategic patience has ended” and that “all options are on the table.”

At their summit Thursday and Friday in Florida, President Donald Trump pressed President Xi Jinping of China to do more to curb North Korea’s nuclear program. Mr. Tillerson said the two leaders agreed during meetings at held at Mr. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago golf club to work together on the issue, but there was no pact on concrete steps to deter North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.

The decision to send the Vinson toward the Korean Peninsula comes as Mr. Trump is taking a more aggressive American military posture around the world.

Mr Trump on Friday ordered America’s first direct military strike against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The US fired nearly 60 cruise missiles at a Syrian regime airfield believed to be home to pilots who carried out a suspected chemical weapons attack that killed more than 85 people, including 27 children.

US leaders said the one-time strike, which did modest damage to the airfield, was meant to deter Mr. Assad from using chemical weapons again.

The US also added to its forces in Iraq and Syria as the military tries to drive Islamic State from its biggest strongholds: Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa, the militant group’s de facto capital in Syria. – With reports from The Star Online  and the Australian

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