by WorldTribune Staff, April 23, 2017
As the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier strike group participated in exercises with the Japanese navy, North Korea threatened to take out the aircraft carrier “with a single strike.”
“Our revolutionary forces are combat-ready to sink a U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carrier,” the Rodong Sinmun, the newspaper of the North’s ruling Workers’ Party, said in an April 22 commentary.
U.S. President Donald Trump ordered the USS Carl Vinson carrier strike group to sail to waters off the Korean peninsula in response to North Korea’s continued missile tests and the Kim Jong-Un regime’s threats to attack the United States and its Asian allies.
Trump has vowed to prevent North Korea from acquiring the capability to hit the United States with a nuclear missile and has said all options are on the table, including a pre-emptive military strike.
Two Japanese warships, the Samidare and Ashigara, left western Japan on April 21 to join the Carl Vinson and will “practice a variety of tactics” with the U.S. strike group, the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force said in a statement.
Japan’s navy, which is mostly a destroyer fleet, is the second largest in Asia after China’s.
The Rodong Sinmun commentary likened the USS Carl Vinson to a “gross animal” and said a strike on it would be “an actual example to show our military’s force.”
The commentary was carried on page three of the newspaper, after a two-page feature about Kim Jong-Un inspecting a pig farm.
Japan’s show of naval force reflects growing concern that North Korea could strike it with nuclear or chemical weapons.
Some Japanese ruling party lawmakers are urging Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to acquire weapons that could hit North Korean missile forces before any imminent attack.
Further stoking tensions, North Korea on April 21 detained Tony Kim, a Korean-American, bringing the total number of U.S. citizens held by Pyongyang to three. Kim had been in North Korea for a month teaching accounting at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST), the institution’s chancellor Chan-Mo Park told Reuters. He was arrested at Pyongyang International Airport on his way out of the country.
Ahn Chan-Il, director of the World North Korea Research Center in Seoul, said that the North “seems to be intending to use professor Kim as leverage in negotiations.”
Two other U.S. citizens, college student Otto Warmbier and Korean-American pastor Kim Dong-Chul, are also currently detained in the North after being sentenced to long prison terms for what Pyongyang called subversive acts against the country.