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Trump's 'very powerful armada' headed to Australia, not North Korea

It is a sign Trump is letting China control North Korea.

The Carl Vinson Strike Group.
The Carl Vinson Strike Group.
Image: ABACA

AFTER A FEW days of sabre-rattling, US President Donald Trump’s administration has reverted to the same North Korea policy as its predecessor: relying on China to control Pyongyang.

The USS Carl Vinson carrier battle group, which Trump boasted last week was the “armada, very powerful” to bring leader Kim Jong-un to heel is instead carrying out drills off the coast of Australia.

And in Washington, top officials now express hope that North Korea’s great power neighbour China will apply the necessary political and economic pressure to halt its nuclear tests.

Beijing, of course, has made this promise before, and experts warn there is no particular reason why China would honour it now — but the White House seems to have few better options.

The Navy on 8 April said it was directing a naval strike group headed by the USS Carl Vinson supercarrier to “sail north,” as a “prudent measure” to deter North Korea.

President Donald Trump the next day said: “We are sending an armada. Very powerful.”

Last week, US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said the Vinson was “on her way up” to the Korean peninsula. Four days later the ship was photographed sailing the other way, into the Indian Ocean.

Yesterday, Mattis said the United States is “working so closely” with China towards the aim of denuclearizing the peninsula, adding hopefully that: “We all share that same interest.”

Trump also expressed confidence that — after his summit earlier this month with Chinese leader Xi Jinping — the standoff will be resolved with Beijing’s full support.

Parade

North Korea What's Ahead Source: Wong Maye-E

Speaking to Fox News television, Trump said he was dealing with Xi “with great respect” and that China had already begun enforcing more strictly its own ban on coal imports from North Korea.

“Nobody’s ever seen it like that. Nobody’s ever seen such a positive response on our behalf from China,” he said.

But if Pyongyang is nervous that international sanctions are about to bite, it has not shown it, and senior officials have vowed to continue nuclear and ballistic missile tests.

The regime carried out a failed test-firing of a medium-range missile on Saturday, shortly after a parade showcased an impressive arsenal of apparently nuclear-capable rockets.

And North Korea’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations vowed that any US strike would provoke “the toughest counteraction.”

The United States has more than 28,000 troops in South Korea and powerful assets at sea and in air bases around the region, but North Korea has artillery within range of Seoul.

- © AFP, 2017

Read: What does a UK election mean for Ireland? It could be good news you know…

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