April 1st, 2013
02:44 PM ET

U.S. Navy warship moving closer to North Korea

By Barbara Starr

The U.S. Navy is moving a warship and a sea-based radar platform closer to the North Korean coast in order to monitor that country's military moves, including possible new missile launches, a Defense Department official said Monday.

The decisions to move at least one ship and the oil rig-like SBX-1 are the first of what may be other naval deployments, CNN has learned.

They follow weeks of belligerent rhetoric from North Korea, including threats to use nuclear weapons.

The United States and South Korea have gone ahead with joint military exercises despite the threats, and South Korea warned Monday that any provocative moves from North Korea would trigger a strong response "without any political considerations."

The United States has bolstered the exercises with shows of force that included overflights by nuclear-capable B-2 stealth bombers, massive Cold War-era B-52s and F-22 Raptor stealth fighters.

"If there is any provocation against South Korea and its people, there should be a strong response in initial combat without any political considerations," South Korean President Park Geun-hye said at a meeting with senior defense and security officials, according to her office.

Her comments came after North Korea rattled off fresh volleys of bombastic rhetoric over the weekend, declaring that it had entered a "state of war" with the South and labeling the U.S. mainland a "boiled pumpkin," vulnerable to attack.

The two Koreas are technically still at war after their conflict in the early 1950s ended in a truce not a peace treaty.

The secretive regime of Kim Jong Un has delivered a steady stream of verbal attacks against South Korea and the United States in recent weeks, including the threat of a nuclear strike.

It has lashed out at the U.S.-South Korean military drills currently under way and at the tougher U.N. sanctions that were slapped on it after its latest nuclear test in February.

Analysts have expressed heavy skepticism that the North has the military capabilities to follow through on many of its melodramatic threats.

But concerns remain that it could carry out a localized attack on South Korea, as it did in November 2010 when it shelled Yeongpyeong Island, killing four people.

Displays of strength

The United States has sought to show its willingness to defend its South Korean ally by drawing attention to displays of its military strength during the drills taking place in South Korea.

Washington's recent announcements concerning practice flights over South Korea by B-52 bombers and B-2 stealth bombers, both of which can carry both conventional and nuclear weapons, have not been lost on Pyongyang, which has described them as acts of U.S. hostility.

There was no immediate reaction on North Korean state media Monday to the U.S. statement saying the stealth fighters, F-22 Raptors, were sent to the main U.S. Air Force Base in South Korea to support air drills in the annual Foal Eagle training exercises there.

U.S. and South Korean officials have been trying to strike a balance between acknowledging that the North's rhetoric is cause for concern and at the same time playing down the severity of the threat.

Park said Monday that she was "viewing the threat from North Korea in a serious manner."

But a senior U.S. Defense Department official said late last week that there were "no indications at this point that it's anything more than warmongering rhetoric."

South Korea has noted that scores of its workers have continued in recent days to enter and leave the Kaesong Industrial Complex, a joint economic cooperation zone between the two Koreas situated on the North's side of the border.

That is despite Pyongyang cutting a key military hotline on the border and threatening to shut down the complex.

Moscow and Beijing call for calm

The heightened tensions have prompted North Korea's traditional allies, China and Russia, to urge the different sides to keep a lid on the situation.

"Moscow expects all parties to exercise as much responsibility and restraint as possible in light of North Korea's latest statements," the Russian foreign ministry said Saturday according to Russian state broadcaster Russia Today.

China, which expressed frustration over Pyongyang's most recent nuclear test, also called for calm.

"We hope relevant parties can work together to turn around the tense situation in the region," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said Friday, describing peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula as "a joint responsibility."

But the coming weeks appear laced with potential for more bouts of saber-rattling.

North Korean delegates are currently gathered in Pyongyang for the Supreme People's Assembly, the country's rubber stamp parliament.

And April 15 is the anniversary of the birth of Kim Il Sung, the nation's founder and the grandfather of Kim Jong Un. That day, the biggest national holiday in North Korea, is usually marked by large-scale parades.

Meanwhile, the U.S.-South Korean military exercises that have already stirred so much ire from the North are due to continue until the end of the month.

Finally, some analysts have noted that Pyongyang has carried out some sort of military provocation within weeks of every South Korean presidential inauguration.

Park, the current president, took office on February 25, five weeks ago.

CNN's Barbara Starr reported from Washington. K.J. Kwon reported from Seoul, and Jethro Mullen reported and wrote from South Korea.

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Filed under: Navy • North Korea
soundoff (33 Responses)
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  3. lou sweet

    Gimme the OUTCOME of the battle; the outcome of the war will take many years (like in Irak !!! ) Sweet, Lou !

    April 11, 2013 at 1:17 pm | Reply
  4. benok

    north korea's ploy is to position their missiles into eastern part facing america(alaska and guam), the other missile hidden in the mountainous area for so long aiming at seoul for greater lost of soul. as i said there was a ploy beacause they will use a super EMP hiedden in the satellite launched last december 2012. the satellite will travel in between the satellite in the east and west coast to avoid being detected. and presto the usa will be back in the stine age for a year or so makes it debelitating and her economy will be greatly affected.

    April 6, 2013 at 3:30 am | Reply
    • Terry D.

      Pass the bong and the tinfoil hat, sir.

      April 13, 2013 at 12:36 am | Reply
  5. J Fusco

    Reblogged this on From the Bridge Blog.

    April 2, 2013 at 1:40 pm | Reply
  6. Davz

    This is all just prep-work for the Korean War, Act II.

    April 2, 2013 at 9:36 am | Reply
    • KSMOGA

      Okay I will cut down on the booze, but I can't stop the pain pills My family has been 100% United States Marines for two generations, I lost an Uncle in Korea in 1951, so NEVER QUESTION MY COMMITMENT TO THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. i AM 100% AMERICAN. I am even one of the Americans that pay taxes. You really need to read up on what a United States President can do, they have lots of power. Our last President was George W. Bush and I am waiting for the next one.

      April 2, 2013 at 9:46 am | Reply
  7. stan

    I don't think anything will happen to North K... even if they do start a war with South K, China will never allow US to take out North... they don't want US there any more then North K... so i doubt they would allow US to strengthen it's hold on the region by removing pro-China North and replacing it with pro-US South.... I just don't see it.

    April 2, 2013 at 8:07 am | Reply

    I would like to press a few buttons and then we will never have to hear about North Korea ever again. But I believe that there is just a very small group of crazy people wanting to take on the United States of America. The regular people in North Korea are probably just like me so I wouldn't want to hurt them. We just need to get rid of the bad ones not the good ones. Somebody needs to show obama where the Navy Seals phone number is.

    April 1, 2013 at 8:07 pm | Reply
    • Michael Means

      As someone from a family that has been 100% Marine, you should know it is SEAL not Seals

      April 2, 2013 at 12:41 pm | Reply
      • KSMOGA

        Thank you for the correction. Now why doesn't North Korea do something? Are they scared or is it over all ready?

        April 2, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
  9. Paul

    If North Korea shoots missiles at us we will take you out Korea don't fight the US of A

    April 1, 2013 at 7:24 pm | Reply
  10. KSMOGA

    China might growl a little but I think they will stay away from any confrontation of any kind. The question is should we let the north and the south fight an old fashioned war or should we remind north Korea what President Bush's shock and awe was like.

    April 1, 2013 at 7:16 pm | Reply
    • outspoken

      Why do not you start the FIREWORK. Do you remember VIETNAM ?

      April 2, 2013 at 9:09 am | Reply
  11. KSMOGA

    I believe that we should park several war ships just out of reach and just out of the north's 12 mile limit, and we should keep flying over the DMZ with many B-52's loaded with the oldest dumb bombs we have so if the north fires at any of them we can drop our old bombs and shake the north up, which would save the USA some money disarming the old bombs.

    April 1, 2013 at 7:11 pm | Reply
  12. Joe M.

    Here go the right-wing thugs in Washington again, proving just how dumb they are! This action is just like trying to dowse a house fire with kerosene! It won't work!!!

    April 1, 2013 at 7:10 pm | Reply
    • 1371usmc

      Ok after seeing a couple of your comments I thought I would let you know President Obama is as far from a right-wing thug as you can get and calling him so makes you sound very stupid. And as commander in-chief he would have had to approve such a action.

      April 1, 2013 at 8:28 pm | Reply
      • KSMOGA

        I don't believe that you are stupid, in fact you sound very intelligent, but the President of the United States of America can commit the entire military for a period of 90 days. After the 90 days is over then Congress must approve the use of the military. Do you really think that if the Congress (535 people) needs to approve every movement of the military that no one would ever leak the plans to the press or even the enemy. You must have been sick the day your class was taught about the United States Government.

        April 1, 2013 at 10:19 pm |
    • Doug

      Put the booze down and get off the pills, you are one upside down American wanna be.

      April 1, 2013 at 11:39 pm | Reply

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