Pentagon chief blames carrier mix-up on 'effort to always be open'

The idea that an aircraft carrier was heading to the Korean Peninsula seemed to underscore Trump's tough talk against North Korea, and fed the media's narrative that Trump was dangerously close to starting a war with North Korea, as it prepared for a possible nuclear weapons test later that week.

"We have an armada going toward the peninsula".

Speaking to USA and Japanese troops on board the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier Wednesday, he called North Korea the most urgent and unsafe threat to the peace and security of the Asia-Pacific region.

"What Mr. Trump said was very important for the national security of South Korea", Presidential candidate Hong Joon-pyo told the Wall Street Journal.

It was about 3,500 miles away from North Korea as leader Kim Jong-Un led a huge show of military strength at the weekend.

The US Vice President, Mike Pence, says his country and Australia will work closely together to address the threat from North Korea.

Spicer said "the statement that was put out was that the Carl Vinson Group was headed to the Korean Peninsula".

North Korea said the U.S. and its allies "should not mess with us". He also said that a US Pacific Command statement talked only about the ships' "ultimate destination".

"She will be on her way", the Pentagon chief told reporters as he made a stop in Saudi Arabia on a tour to the Middle East.

Mr Pence characterised North Korea as an "urgent and most risky threat" to peace and security in the Asia Pacific.

Citing multiple defense officials, CNN reported that the strike group will arrive in the waters off the Korean Peninsula by the end of April.

The next day, President Trump told Fox Business News: "We are sending an armada, very powerful".

US Defense Secretary James Mattis attempted to address the confusion on Wednesday, arguing that the change of course was disclosed in the interest of transparency.

"We will take the toughest counteraction against the provocateurs in order to defend ourselves by powerful force of arms and keep to the road chosen by ourselves", an unidentified ministry spokesman said. This leads to suspicions that there may have been ulterior political motivations to raise tensions on the Korean Peninsula. If she sailed from the strait to the Celebes Sea, her voyage to Korea would be several hundred nm longer than the shortest possible route, which would pass through the South China Sea.

During a White House press briefing last week, Sean Spicer, when asked about the decision to send the strike force to North Korea, claimed the move to be a deterrent.

"The Ministry is in the process of checking facts with both the USA and China through various diplomatic channels", the ministry's spokesperson Cho June-hyuck said.

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