A US Navy aircraft carrier strike group has entered into waters off the Korean Peninsula as tensions flare between US allies South Korea/Japan and North Korea following missile launches over the past two weeks, South Korean security officials say.
South Korea’s National Security Council (NSC) held an emergency meeting on Thursday, October 6, after North Korea launched two more short-range ballistic missiles, the sixth of such launch in 12 days, the country’s Presidential Office said in a statement.
The NSC warned that North Korea’s provocation will face a stronger response, revealing the redeployment of the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan and its strike group into the East Sea, also known as the Sea of Japan, following Pyongyang’s launch of an intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM), which flew over Japan, on Tuesday.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff also said that the US carrier strike group would be redeployed to the Sea of Japan, in what it characterized as a “very unusual” move meant “to demonstrate the resolute will of the SK-US alliance to respond decisively to any provocation or threat from North Korea.”
Asked about the South Korean statement on the Reagan’s movements, a US 7th Fleet spokesperson told CNN, “The Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group is currently operating in the Sea of Japan.”
Pyongyang responded harshly to the South Korean statement on the US Navy strike group’s movements
“The DPRK is watching the US posing a serious threat to the stability of the situation on the Korean peninsula and in its vicinity by redeploying the carrier task force in the waters off the Korean peninsula,” read a statement from the North Korean Foreign Ministry posted on the state-run Korean Central News Agency.
Pyongyang’s missile launches on Thursday are the 24th such tests this year, including both ballistic and cruise missiles making kt the highest annual tally since Kim Jong Un took power in 2012.
Last month, the US, Japanese and South Korean navies conducted joint anti-submarine exercises in international waters off the east coast of the Korean Peninsula to improve response capability against North Korean submarine threats.
The Reagan carrier strike group as well as destroyers of South Korea and Japan were involved in that joint exercise, according to the South Korean Navy.