The USS Carl Vinson carrier strike group is being joined by two Japanese destroyers in the Western Pacific this week to commence joint training drills in a thinly veiled show of force intended to dissuade North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Un from continuing to ignore international pleas to do away with his nuclear weapons program.  North Korea, showing no signs of letting up, issued yet another series of aggressive statements through their state-owned media outlets in response, this time threatening to sink the Carl Vinson itself.

“The world would clearly see how the US’ rash, arrogant aircraft carriers turn into a lump of scrap metal and gets buried at sea, and how the country vanishes from the Earth,” North Korean state-run website Uriminzokkiri said.

“Our super-hard-line responses include sudden, pre-emptive strikes involving land, naval, underwater and airmobile assets.”

Another state-run media outlet, North Korea’s Rodong Sinmun newspaper also stated clearly in an editorial that the North Korean military is prepared to illustrate their “military force” by destroying a “nuclear-powered aircraft carrier with a single strike.”

The newspaper goes on to claim North Korea now possesses weaponry that “can reach continental US and Asia Pacific region,” as well as the “absolute weapon,” a hydrogen bomb.  Of course, these claims can be seen as little more than fabrication-laden posturing, as nothing North Korea’s ballistic missile tests have shown would indicate that they possess the ability to strike the mainland United States with anything more than angry words.

The USS Carl Vinson strike group will be joined by the Japanese destroyers Ashigara and Samidare near the Philippines, where the U.S. Navy and Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force will commence joint force training intended to improve their ability to cooperate in combat operations.

China, who has publicly adopted a more active role in attempting to denuclearize the Korean peninsula, has called on both North Korea and the United States to exercise caution in the face of historically high tensions.  Chinese President XI reportedly contacted President Trump by phone to urge both parties to “maintain restraint and avoid actions that would increase tensions,” according to their Foreign Ministry.

During that conversation, President Trump was said to emphasize that “Pyongyang’s actions are destabilising the Korean Peninsula.”

The phone call between these two men, who just weeks ago were seen as opponents representing political and economic rivals, can be seen as part of a newfound level of cooperation between China and the United States in regard to the threat posed by North Korea in the Pacific.  The United States maintains a large population of military personnel in Japan and South Korea – both the targets of North Korean provocations and potentially the first locations that would see attempted North Korean strikes if tensions were to boil over into all-out war.  China’s focus is on keeping North Korea stable, so as to ensure its domestic issues remain domestic and don’t pour over into surrounding nations.

“We call on (North Korea) to refrain from provocative, destabilizing actions and rhetoric, and to make the strategic choice to fulfill its international obligations and commitments and return to serious talks,” Pentagon spokesman Gary Ross said. “North Korea’s unlawful weapons programs represent a clear, grave threat to US national security.”

There is no evidence to suggest that North Korea has the capability to destroy an aircraft carrier with a single missile, as their tests are often plagued with failure.  However, North Korea has promised to continue testing ballistic missiles as well as working on a truly long-range missile iteration intended to strike at the contiguous forty-eight American states.  With these programs continuing to develop, such threats cannot be ignored.

“Provocations from North Korea have grown far too common and far too dangerous to ignore,” a State Department spokesperson said to the media after their most recent threats.

“Together with the international community, we will hold the Kim Jong-Un regime accountable for its dangerous and reckless actions and serious human rights abuses through a robust international campaign to cut the DPRK off from the rest of the world through diplomatic, security, and economic measures.”  He continued.

“With our allies and partners around the world, we will show the DPRK that the only path to a secure, economically prosperous future is to abandon its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.”

Image courtesy of Reuters