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As Trump warned North Korea, his 'armada' was headed towards Australia

20 Avril 2017

That actually wasn't the case - despite implications from the Trump administration, the USA didn't have an aircraft carrier strike group near North Korea last weekend.

The aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) transits the Sunda Strait, April 15, 2017.

The Vinson, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters last week, was "on her way up there".

U.S. Pacific Command officials in Hawaii on Monday referred questions about the strike group to Pacific Fleet, which said it does not discuss details of ship movements.

The presence of the USA carrier strike group, and the threat of a US military strike on North Korea, had weighed heavily on Chinese minds and in the media here.

Some experts suggested that the situation could have been a tactic to step up pressure on North Korea and to give some leeway to China ahead of the deployment of the navy strike force.

As with other Trump-related incidents, it remains unclear whether the Carl Vinson sailing away from the Korean Peninsula represented an act of misdirection, intentional deception, or ordinary incompetence on behalf of the Trump administration.

The U.S.is trying to ratchet up pressure on North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes.

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While House officials have since said their account was based on "guidance from the Defense Department", according to The New York Times.

"If you are going to threaten the North Koreans, you better make sure your threat is credible", Mr Wit said.

It wasn't immediately clear if the mix-up was due to a deliberate attempt to psych out North Korea's leaders - or a false narrative resulting from miscommunications up the chain of command.

Lawrence Korb, a former USA assistant secretary of defense and a retired Navy captain, said the conflicting messages were "very typical of how the Trump administration does business". "The fact that the Carl Vinson strike group was not in the vicinity of the Korean peninsula undermines the Trump administration's tough approach towards Pyongyang".

"We are sending an armada, very powerful", Trump told Fox Business News, warning that Kim Jong Un "is doing the wrong thing".

The naval strike group had actually spent the past few days conducting drills with the Australian Navy, the official said.

Speaking in Japan, US Vice President Mike Pence said the US will counter any North Korean attack with an "overwhelming and effective" response.

The Pentagon has since corrected the record, saying the ship's planned port visit to Fremantle, Australia, was canceled - not the exercise with Australia's navy.