US Navy shifts destroyer in wake of North Korea missile threats

The U.S. Navy is shifting a guided-missile destroyer in the Pacific to waters off the Korean peninsula in the wake of ongoing rhetoric from North Korea, U.S. defense officials said.
The USS Fitzgerald is capable of intercepting and destroying a missile, should North Korea decide to fire one off, the officials said.
Still, U.S. defense officials insist that there is nothing to indicate that North Korea is on the verge of another launch.
The White House on Monday said the United States hasn’t seen large-scale movements from North Korean military forces in the aftermath of harsh rhetoric from the reclusive government.
“I would note that despite the harsh rhetoric we are hearing from Pyongyang, we are not seeing changes to the North Korean military posture, such as large-scale mobilizations and positioning of forces,” Carney said

The Fitzgerald was also moved back in December 2012 to be in position to defend against the impending North Korean rocket launch.
On Sunday, The United States sent F-22 stealth fighter jets to South Korea as part of military exercises in a move aimed at further deterring threats from North Korea against its neighbor.
It was unclear if the Fitzgerald was also part of the ongoing military drills.
Also Monday, South Korean President Park Geun-hye appeared to give her country’s military permission to strike back at any attack from the North without further word from Seoul, saying she took the North’s escalating threats “very seriously,” South Korean news agency Yonhap reported.
“As commander-in-chief of the armed forces, I will trust the military’s judgment on abrupt and surprise provocations by North Korea,” she said, according to Yonhap.

The deployments and Park’s remarks came as tensions approached an all-time high between Pyongyang and Washington.
Kim Jong Un has ratcheted up the rhetoric against both South Korea and the United States in recent months, and in February violated U.N. sanctions by ordering a nuclear weapons test.
On Saturday, North Korea said it had entered a “state of war” against South Korea, according to a statement reported by the North’s official news agency, KCNA.
The U.S. military command in South Korea announced the deployment of the fighter jets in a statement.
“[North Korea] will achieve nothing by threats or provocations, which will only further isolate North Korea and undermine international efforts to ensure peace and stability in Northeast Asia,” it said.
The exercise, called Foal Eagle, is meant to reinforce “the U.S. commitment of its most advanced capabilities to the security of the Republic of Korea,” according to the statement.
The stealth aircraft – two F-22 Raptors — were deployed from Japan to the Osan Air Base in South Korea from Japan where they will remain on “static display” as part of the military drills, Pentagon spokesman George Little said. The F-22s are not expected to actively participate in any exercises, however.

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Eric Write head editor and chief at The Pluto Daily