A U.S. aircraft carrier and other warships, which President Donald Trump said were sent to the Korean Peninsula last week as a warning, did not sail towards North Korea - but went in the opposite direction, it has emerged.
More than a week earlier, on April 8, the U.S. Navy announced that a strike group led by the USS Carl Vinson had been diverted north from Singapore to the Western Pacific as speculation mounted that North Korea was preparing a nuclear or missile test.
President Donald Trump last week said he had sent "an armada - very powerful" to North Korea to send a message about American resolve and intent. "That's a fact. It happened - it is happening, rather".
Over the next week, President Trump, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, national security advisor H.R. McMaster, White House spokesman Sean Spicer and other officials all spoke of the carrier's positioning as a dramatic show of force against Pyongyang.
The story unravelled when the US Navy released a photograph showing the Carl Vinson thousands of kilometres away in the Sunda Strait, between the Indonesian islands of Java and Sumatra, on Saturday, the same day Kim Jong-un was making a show of his military arsenal in the streets of Pyongyang.
North Korea's foreign ministry said the approach of the US Navy strike group showed Washington's "reckless moves for invading had reached a serious phase". Citing multiple defense officials, CNN reported that the strike group will arrive in the waters off the Korean Peninsula by the end of April.
But, instead of heading straight towards the Korean peninsula, the U.S. strike group instead conducted planned exercises with HMAS Ballarat in the Indian Ocean.
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"If you are going to threaten the North Koreans, you better make sure your threat is credible", Wit said.
After its arrival, the USS Carl Vinson and its strike group will join the South Korean Navy in a maritime drill created to counter the recent provocations from the North. Yu Joonhee, Arirang News.
Vice President Mike Pence said that he does not believe the Defense Department intentionally misled the public about the whereabouts of a strike group in the Pacific Ocean.
Secretary tillerson said Iran is complying with the letter of the nuclear agreement that was signed by president Obama but he had harsh words for Iran support of terrorism in the Middle East and suggest that Iran is going down the same path as north Korea. Several times over the last two weeks, the Trump administration said the ships were heading north.
'We have said again and again all parties need to work together to de-escalate the tension instead of being provocative because provocation can not achieve the goals, ' Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said during a press conference on Wednesday. "Very powerful", Trump said on April 12 during an interview with Fox Business Network's Maria Bartiromo after being asked about North Korea's planned missile launch.
"We don't generally give out ships schedules in advance but I didn't want to play a game either and say we were not changing a schedule when in fact we had", Mattis said.
But according to Spicer, Trump's comments shouldn't have been taken to mean the peninsula was the carrier group's first stop.