TOKYO — North Korea on Sunday threatened to sink an American aircraft carrier that is beginning joint drills with two Japanese destroyers in the western Pacific Ocean.
The USS Carl Vinson will be joined by the Ashigara and Samidare destroyers in “tactical training” drills near the Philippines, the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force said.
North Korea’s state-run newspaper Rodong Sinmun said in an editorial the country is ready to illustrate its “military force” by sinking a “nuclear-powered aircraft carrier with a single strike.”
The state newspaper claimed to have weaponry which “can reach continental U.S. and Asia Pacific region” and the “absolute weapon,” hydrogen bomb.
In the face of recent saber-rattling from North Korea, President Donald Trump had said the USS Carl Vinson carrier group was being deployed to waters off the Korean peninsula
The location of the USS Carl Vinson has dominated headlines after Trump’s remark on April 12.
Trump said he was sending “an armada” to Korean waters potentially to deal with threats from North Korea. The statement came after Pyongyang said it had successfully launched a new ballistic missile.
“We are sending an armada. Very powerful,” Trump told Fox Business Network’s Maria Bartiromo. “We have submarines. Very powerful. Far more powerful than the aircraft carrier. That I can tell you.”
But it turned out the carrier group was not actually steaming toward the peninsula, but rather heading to joint exercises with the Australian navy.
The U.S. Pacific Command said Tuesday that training with the Australian navy had been completed, and that “the Carl Vinson Strike Group is heading north to the western Pacific as a prudent measure.”
U.S. defense officials said the Vinson and its carrier group would arrive off the Korean Peninsula by the end of April.
The U.S. Navy announced Thursday that it was extending the Vinson’s deployment by 30 days “to provide a persistent presence in the waters off the Korean Peninsula.”
Sunday’s threats are consistent with others North Korea has made in past weeks. North Korea has said it will respond in kind to any U.S. attack on the country.
And it has claimed it would strike the U.S. mainland and U.S. carriers and forces in the region, specifically U.S. bases in Seoul and Tokyo.