NSA McMaster: 'Prudent' to send strike group to Korean Peninsula

NSA McMaster: 'Prudent' to send strike group to Korean Peninsula

A U.S. aircraft carrier-led strike group is headed toward the Western Pacific Ocean near the Korean Peninsula, an American defence official said.

In response to the North Korean threat, the Vinson carrier will now cross into the Western Pacific rather than make port visits previously planned in Australia, said the PACOM command.

These include economic and military measures but lean more towards sanctions and increased pressure on China to restrain North Korea.

"Well, it's prudent to do it, isn't it?" he replied.

A clash with North Korea could spark a wider conflict. This is a rogue regime that is now a nuclear-capable regime. "And China will either decide to help us with North Korea, or they won't ... and if they don't, it won't be good for anyone".

In a separate statement on ABC, U.S. State Secretary Rex Tillerson reiterated the objective of a "denuclearized Korean peninsula" and that "regime change" is not the goal of deployment.

"If you violate worldwide agreements, if you fail to live up to commitments, if you become a threat to others, at some point a response is likely to be undertaken", Tillerson said on ABC's This Week in response to a question about what message North Korea should take from the strike on Syria.

China's Global Times stated Monday that while North Korea is not likely to become the "next Syria", the state tabloid warned Pyongyang against further provocations, including a sixth nuclear test, which could only invite more US military action.

A South Korean official in March said the North is likely to conduct "high-intensity strategic provocations such as a nuclear test" or an intercontinental ballistic missile on key dates for the nation.

Reuters was the first to report the deployment on Saturday. The Japan-based aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, the only US carrier homeported overseas, has been undergoing maintenance in recent months.

Lieu tweeted on Sunday, "Unlike Syria, N. Korea has nukes & can rain down artillery on S. Korea".

The North, for its part, continues to justify its missile program as protection against a perceived threat from the US, which routinely carries out military exercises with its southern rival.

"If we judge that they have perfected that type of delivery system, then that becomes a very serious stage of their further development", said Tillerson.

"President Xi clearly understands, and I think agrees, that the situation has intensified and has reached a certain level of threat that action has to be taken", Tillerson told "Face the Nation" host John Dickerson. "And I think even China is beginning to recognize that this presents a threat ... to China's interests as well".

While playing down the option of the American armada launching any pre-emptive attack on North Korean positions, Seoul said the mobilisation is part of an overall strategy to better handle the Pyongyang regime.

Tillerson told CBS's Face the Nation, in an interview broadcast on Sunday, that when Donald Trump and Chinese president Xi Jinping met at the Mar-a-Lago resort this week, they "had extensive discussions around the risky situation in North Korea".

"The US missile attack against Syria is a clear and intolerable act of aggression against a sovereign state and we strongly condemn it", a government official reportedly told the North Korea's national news agency, KCNA.

Related news: