US moves warship, sea-based radar closer to North Korean coast

Washington, April 2: Amid raging tension in the Korean peninsula, the US is moving some of its key military assets, including a warship and a sea-based radar platform, closer to the North Korean coast to monitor Pyongyang's military moves.

The decision to move destroyer USS John S McCain and the oil rig-like SBX-1 are the first of what may be other naval deployments.

"I would urge everyone to disconnect this ship deployment from recent military exercises in South Korea. We have regular ship movements in the Asia Pacific region and we use our ship movements for any number of purposes. So I'd be very careful about connecting this to recent tensions on the Korean Peninsula," said Pentagon Press Secretary George Little.

The moves comes following a joint military exercise with South Korea, which included over flights by nuclear-capable B- 2 stealth bombers, and B-52s and F-22 Raptor stealth fighters.

"We are concerned about any miscalculation. It is our goal very clearly to avoid miscalculation and risk. We want to choose the path of peace and stability on the peninsula. The North Koreans recently have engaged in a series of provocations, both in words and in actions," he said.

"It is time for them to come into compliance with their international obligations and to choose the path of peace," he said, adding the US has not seen any kind of troop movements on the North Korean side that would indicate imminent military action.

"So we think that things may be dialing down just a bit on the Korean Peninsula. At least we hope so. Naturally we're prepared for any contingency," he said.

Meanwhile, South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se is scheduled to meet his American counterpart John Kerry on Tuesday, during which the two leaders are expected to discuss the threat perception and security situation in the region.

"The Foreign Minister of the Republic of Korea will be here. Secretary Kerry will have a chance to consult with him. There'll also be a joint press availability after that meeting," State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said.

North Korea recently warned that US bases in Hawaii and Guam would be targeted in what could turn into "an all-out war, a nuclear war".

The communist regime last week declared a "state of war" with South Korea.

No change in N Korean military posture despite threat: US

The United States does not see any change in the military posture of North Korea despite threat and recent rhetoric coming from its leadership, the White House said.

"I would note that despite the harsh rhetoric we're hearing from Pyongyang, we are not seeing changes to the North Korean military posture, such as large-scale mobilisations and positioning of forces," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said on Monday.

Still, the US is taking the threat coming from North Korea seriously.

"We take this seriously. I've said in the past. We are vigilant and we are monitoring the Korean situation very diligently," Carney said.

"The actions we've taken are prudent, and they include, on missile defence, to enhance both the homeland and allied security, and others actions like the B-2 and B-52 flights, have been important steps to reassure our allies, demonstrate our resolve to the North, and reduce pressure on Seoul to take unilateral action. We believe this has reduced the chance of miscalculation and provocation," he said.

Carney added that the US has seen action to back up the rhetoric in the sense that they haven't seen significant changes in the North in terms of mobilisations or repositioning of forces and that is important to note.

"What that disconnects between the rhetoric and action means, I'll leave to the analysts to judge. We simply evaluate it and take necessary precautionary measures, and make clear to North Korea, together with our allies that this provocation behavior, provocative rhetoric only isolates them further; brings them no closer to rejoining the international community of nations -- in fact, moves them farther away from that potential and possibility," he said.

Carney said the US President Barack Obama and the administration judge the rhetoric and actions by the North Korean regime for what are actions and rhetoric that further isolate the regime, that demonstrate a repeated preference for bellicosity rather than tending to the needs of the North Korean people who suffer greatly under a regime that prioritises nuclear weapons and missile programs over the welfare of their own people.

The US, he asserted, is committed to maintaining peace and security in the region. "North Korea should stop its provocative threats and instead concentrate on abiding by its international obligations. And pursuit of nuclear and missile programs does not make it more secure but only increases its isolation and seriously undermines its ability to pursue economic development," Carney said.

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