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US moves warship closer to N Korea amid growing tension

April 02, 2013 16:52 IST

Amid raging tension in the Korean peninsula, the US is moving some of its key military assets, including a warship and a sea-based radar platform, closer to the North Korean coast to monitor Pyongyang's military moves.

The decision to move destroyer USS John S McCain and the oil rig-like SBX-1 are the first of what may be other naval deployments, according to the CNN.

"I would urge everyone to disconnect this ship deployment from recent military exercises in South Korea. We have regular ship movements in the Asia Pacific region and we use our ship movements for any number of purposes. So I'd be very careful about connecting this to recent tensions on the Korean Peninsula," Pentagon Press Secretary George Little told CNN.

The moves comes following a joint military exercise with South Korea, which included over flights by nuclear-capable B-2 stealth bombers, and B-52s and F-22 Raptor stealth fighters.

"We are concerned about any miscalculation. It is our goal very clearly to avoid miscalculation and risk. We want to choose the path of peace and stability on the peninsula. The North Koreans recently have engaged in a series of provocations, both in words and in actions," he said.

"It is time for them to come into compliance with their international obligations and to choose the path of peace," he said, adding the US has not seen any kind of troop movements on the North Korean side that would indicate imminent military action.

"So we think that things may be dialing down just a bit on the Korean Peninsula. At least we hope so. Naturally we're prepared for any contingency," he said.

Meanwhile, South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se is scheduled to meet his American counterpart John Kerry in Washington on Tuesday, during which the two leaders are expected to discuss the threat perception and security situation in the region.

"The foreign minister of the Republic of Korea will be here (in Washington). Secretary Kerry will have a chance to consult with him. There'll also be a joint press availability after that meeting," state department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said.

North Korea recently warned that US bases in Hawaii and Guam would be targeted in what could turn into "an all-out war, a nuclear war". The communist regime last week declared a "state of war" with South Korea.

"Our recent activities with our South Korean allies have been about alliance assurance, about ensuring them that we are there to protect them. We also have 28,500 US troops on the Korean Peninsula and we have other friends in the region, too, like Japan. And it's about their security that we're most concerned," Little said in response to a question.

Earlier in the day, he told reporters that two F-22 Raptors, as previously planned, have been deployed from Kadena Air Base, Japan, to Osan Air Base, South Korea, to participate in the two-month-long Foal Eagle exercise which began March 1.

"This exercise has been planned for some time and is part of the air component of the Foal Eagle exercise," he said.

Responding to questions, Nuland said the threat coming from North Korea is only help in further isolating the nation. "More broadly, though, these kinds of moves are not going to make North Korea more secure. They are not going to feed the people of North Korea. They're not going to get the country out of its isolation," she said.

"There is a very simple and clear path for the DPRK (Democratic People Republic of Korea) if they care about the future of their country, if they care about the future of their people, and that's to stop with the provocations, stop spending money on the wrong things, and meet their international obligations so that we can meet them halfway on that," she said.

Kerry, who will meet his South Korean counterpart on Tuesday, is scheduled to leave on a trip to Asia next week that would take him to Beijing, Tokyo and Seoul among others, during which he expects North Korea to be a major topic of discussion.

Image: The guided-missile destroyer USS John S McCain approaches the aircraft carrier USS George Washington for a fueling at sea | Photograph: US Navy handout/Reuters

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