Tensions on the Korean peninsula reached a boiling point this week. The United States threatened to use pre-emptive nuclear strikes against North Korea if it continues its nuclear and ballistic missile tests. Last week, Donald Trump claimed that the U.S. military was sending an “armada” to North Korea in response to its missile test on April 5. The “armada” Trump was referring to is a convoy of the U.S. aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson leading three other warships.
Recent U.S. bombings in Syria and Afghanistan raised the possibility of a U.S. first strike in North Korea that could lead to an all-out nuclear war. Tensions still remain high, and Trump’s erroneous remark about the deployment of the Carl Vinson and the naval strike group added to the confusion surrounding the current crisis.
Here’s a quick rundown of what transpired in recent weeks:
April 5 – North Korea test launched a ballistic missile.
April 9 – The U.S. military announced that Admiral Harry Harris, Commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, directed the USS Carl Vinson strike group to head north and station itself in the Western Pacific.
April 11 – Trump tweeted, “North Korea is looking for trouble. If China decides to help, that would be great. If not, we will solve the problem without them! U.S.A.”
Reporters asked Press Secretary Sean Spicer why the U.S. decided to deploy the naval strike group to the East Sea. Spicer claimed that the deployment of the naval strike group is a show of “deterrence” and military “presence.” He failed to mention that the Carl Vinson was not headed north to the East Sea and would not be moving in that direction for at least another 14 days.
Defense Secretary Mattis announced that the Carl Vinson had canceled its military exercises with the Australian Navy. In an interview with Fox News, Trump stated that the U.S. is sending an “armada” to warn of a U.S. pre-emptive strike against North Korea.
April 12 – Christine Hong, Associate Professor at UC Santa Cruz and executive board member of the Korea Policy Institute, spoke with The Real News Network to discuss the overlooked history of U.S. policy towards North Korea that has led to current crisis.
(Video source: The Real News Network)
April 14 – ZoominKorea’s Hyun Lee spoke with RT News about the dangerous situation the U.S. would create for all countries in the Northeast Asia region, particularly South Korea, by deploying warships and strategic bombers near North Korea. Below is an excerpt from the interview:
It was reported in the US media last weekend that his policy may include redeploying nuclear weapons in South Korea as well as taking military action to decapitate the North Korean leadership. I believe what is happening right now is that the U.S. is flexing its muscle in order to intimidate North Korea. We have been here before in the past. By deploying aircraft carriers and strategic bombers to the region – what the US is doing it is creating a situation of tension, where even the slightest misstep can create a confrontation that can quickly escalate to full-scale war. This is very dangerous.
We should know that, according to global intelligence from Stratfor, the U.S. just does not have sufficient intelligence to know the location of all of North Korea’s nuclear arsenal. And according to them, the only military option available to the US to guarantee the removal of the threat of a North Korean nuclear attack is actually the use of U.S. nuclear weapons preemptively, or invasion or occupation of North Korea.
Now, is this the path that the U.S. wants to go down? Can it actually risk going down this path after decades of bungling military actions in the Middle East that have completely destabilize that region? Especially now at a time, when in South Korea there is a vacuum of political leadership: the South Korean president was just impeached; there is supposed to be an election in a month from now; there is a vacuum there. The South Korean people will obviously be the ones who pay the greatest price for any type of US military action. This is unthinkable. This is not in the interest of the US or South Korea, or anyone in the region.
Click here to read the entire transcript of the interview.
April 15 – North Korea test-launched an unidentified ballistic missile from land. No “armada” or convoy of warships led by the USS Carl Vinson was found near the Korean Peninsula.
April 17 – Mike Pence made a surprise visit to the Demilitarized Zone separating the two Koreas. He declared “the era of strategic patience” over and said “all options are on the table.”
Korea experts Christine Hong and Bruce Cumings, professor of history at University of Chicago, spoke with Democracy Now! about the history of U.S.-North Korea relations and the need for diplomacy.
(Video source: Democracy Now!)
April 18 – Reports surfaced about the actual location of the USS Carl Vinson and the so-called “armada” of naval vessels that were supposed to be heading to the East Sea near the Korean Peninsula. Contrary to the Trump administration’s claims that the naval strike group was heading north on April 11, the warships were heading in the opposite direction to the Indian Ocean to participate in military exercises with the Australian Navy. On April 15, when North Korea was conducting its missile test, the Carl Vinson was seen thousands of miles away off the shores of Indonesia.
Christine Ahn, Executive Director of Women Cross DMZ, a global movement of women mobilizing to end the Korean War, spoke with Dennis Bernstein of Flashpoints on KPFA Radio to shed light on the political context surrounding the current crisis.
Click here to listen to the interview (begin at 31:55).
April 19 – Christine Ahn joined the Thom Hartmann Program to further discuss the state of tensions between the U.S. and North Korea.
(Video source: Thom Hartmann Program)
April 21 – ZoominKorea’s Hyun Lee also joined the Thom Hartmann Program to highlight the longstanding tensions and failed attempts at engagement between the U.S. and North Korea.
April 22 – During his visit in Australia, Mike Pence stated that the USS Carl Vinson would arrive in the East Sea near the Korean Peninsula “in a matter of days.”
April 23 – The USS Carl Vinson arrived in the Philippine Sea to hold joint military exercises with Japan.
Featured News & Articles
July 27 marks the 65th Anniversary of the Korean War Armistice Agreement. In a special interview with ZoominKorea contributor Gregory Elich, we discuss the significance of the Armistice Agreement, prospects for ending the Korean War, and what it will take for genuine peace to come and remain permanently on the Korean Peninsula.read more
By attributing “Gangster-like” invective to North Korea, the NY Times refreshes the “irrational, out-of-control, over- the- top, can’t-be-negotiated-with” framing that has prevented, sabotaged and derailed negotiation in the past.read more
Weekly News Roundup
The residents of Seongju and Gimcheon were caught off guard when the USFK and the South Korean Defense Ministry forced key parts of the THAAD missile system into the former Lotte Skyhill Golf Course in the early morning hours of April 26. The AN/TPY-2 radar is believed to have been transported into the deployment site.read more