The Pentagon is sending the 97,000-ton USS Carl Vinson with an escort of a guided-missile cruiser and two destroyers following another missile test by North Korea last week.
According to a statement provided to CNN by officials in Pyongyang, the “current grim situation” justifies Pyongyang’s “self-defensive and pre-emptive strike capabilities with the nuclear force at the core.”
“We will make the US fully accountable for the catastrophic consequences that may be brought about by its high-handed and outrageous acts,” the statement said.
On Tuesday, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is expected to attend the country’s Supreme People’s Assembly, a high-profile gathering of the nation’s leading political figures.
The meeting comes days before North Korea celebrates the April 15 birthday of deceased leader Kim Il Sung, Kim’s grandfather — amid speculation that Pyongyang will mark the occasion with by testing missiles or possibly a nuclear device.
Carrying more than 5,000 sailors and 60 aircraft, the USS Carl Vinson is escorted by guided-missile destroyers USS Wayne E. Meyer and USS Michael Murphy and the guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain.
The group’s ships and air wing provide significant firepower and strike capability, but balancing the available military options with the potential of retaliation from North Korea presents a complicated scenario for US President Donald Trump.
China — North Korea’s closest ally — has pressed the US to engage in direct diplomatic negotiations with North Korea.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Sunday that Beijing understands how dangerous North Korea’s nuclear program has become and agrees action must be taken to stop it, but China hasn’t signaled any change in its approach to Pyongyang since a summit between Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping last week.
US allies South Korea and Japan, which has seen previous North Korean missile tests fall within 200 miles of its coast, both supported the deployment of the Vinson group.
South Korea said the group’s deployment was recognition of the “grave situation on the Korean Peninsula,” while Japan said it was “important to secure the power of US deterrence.”
The White House faces a tough task in convincing North Korea to give up its nuclear program, retired Gen. Michael Hayden, a former head of the CIA and National Security Agency told CNN’s “New Day.”
“No matter what we do there is this move by North Korea to build missiles and put weapons on top of missiles,” Hayden said.
“This is what they count on for regime survival. … The best we can do is box it where it is right now,” he said. “I don’t think we can make them give up the program.”