SEOUL - North Korea said yesterday that it was ready to sink a United States aircraft carrier to demonstrate its military might, as two Japanese navy ships joined a US carrier group for drills in the Pacific Ocean.
US President Donald Trump ordered the USS Carl Vinson carrier strike group to sail to waters off the Korean peninsula in response to rising tension over the North's nuclear and missile tests, and its threats to attack the US and its Asian allies. The US has not specified where the carrier strike group is as it approaches the area.
North Korea remains defiant, Reuters reported.
"Our revolutionary forces are combat-ready to sink a US nuclear-powered aircraft carrier with a single strike," Rodong Sinmun, the newspaper of the North's ruling Workers' Party, said in a commentary.
The paper likened the aircraft carrier to a "gross animal" and said a strike on it will be "an actual example to show our military's force". The commentary was carried on page three of the newspaper after a two-page feature on leader Kim Jong Un inspecting a pig farm.
The joint exercises are being held near the Philippines, as the naval strike group "continued its northern transit in the western Pacific", AFP reported.
The drill is designed to "ensure maritime forces remain ready to defend the region when called upon", the US Navy posted on its Facebook page.
"Seeing the threats we are facing now, it is no surprise that Japan and the US are conducting joint exercises," Mr Toshimitsu Motegi, a senior Japanese ruling party lawmaker, told Japan's NHK public broadcaster. He added that the exercises will send a "strong message".
The Carl Vinson drills, expected to last several days, involve two Japanese warships, Japan's defence ministry said.
Some Japanese ruling party lawmakers are urging Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to acquire strike weapons that could hit North Korean missile forces before any imminent attack.
China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi yesterday called for the complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.
"China is firmly supporting the denuclearisation of the area in the name of stability and peace", he said. "China may not have the key to this solution ... but we are happy that more sides are accepting our point of view.
Meanwhile, North Korea detained an American on Friday, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported, bringing the total number of Americans held by the isolated country to three.
The man, a Korean-American in his fifties identified only by his surname Kim, had been in North Korea for a month to discuss relief activities.
This article was first published on Apr 24, 2017.
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