Looks like the White House decided to go for the biggest gun for its gun-boat diplomacy in Korea.
From the BBC:
North Korea says it will use its “nuclear deterrent” in response to joint US-South Korean military exercises this weekend.
Pyongyang was ready to launch a “retaliatory sacred war”, the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KINA) said, quoting defence officials.
Washington and Seoul say the war games are to deter North Korean aggression.
Tensions between the two Koreas have been high since the sinking of a South Korean warship in March.
An international investigation said the ship was sunk by a North Korean torpedo, a claim strongly denied by Pyongyang.
“All these war manoeuvres are nothing but outright provocations aimed to stifle the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea [North Korea] by force of arms,” KCNA reported the powerful National Defence Commission as saying.
“The army and people of the DPRK will start a retaliatory sacred war of their own style based on nuclear deterrent any time necessary in order to counter the US imperialists and the South Korean puppet forces deliberately pushing the situation to the brink of a war.”
The BBC’s John Sudworth, in Seoul, says it is not the first time that North Korea has issued such a warning.
Although it is likely to be dismissed as the usual diplomatic brinkmanship, the rising tension will cause concern among governments in the region, he adds.
The ultra conservative Washington Times has a different take on the same item.
The Obama administration has given in to pressure from China and will not send the aircraft carrier strike group led by the USS George Washington to the Yellow Sea for upcoming naval exercises. The move followed protests from Beijing that a warship group in that area would pose a threat to China.
The carrier, however, will take part in exercises beginning this weekend on the eastern side of the Korean Peninsula in the Sea of Japan, a location that was not opposed by China.
Officially, Pentagon spokesmen insist the decision on the Yellow Sea has not yet been made. But defense officials close to the issue told Inside the Ring the decision not to send the carrier to the next phase of the maneuvers, which are intended as a saber-rattling message to North Korea, is already set.
As a result, the officials said the failure to send the carrier will be viewed by China as a sign of U.S. weakness and will undermine U.S. efforts to maintain freedom of navigation in the western Pacific near China.
Sigh, only a man who has never served a day in his life in the military could make the point that Bill Gertz made. A Carrier group does not need to park itself in the Yellow Sea to make a point. It IS the point. It is a crass claim to a section of ocean some six hundred miles in diameter. It is a statement made in gray painted steel that you can put a major hurting on any person who wants to play in YOUR ocean. The George Washington does not need to be in the Yellow Sea to own that piece of salt water; it just needs to be in the general neighborhood.
A naval “exercise” in Korean waters by the George Washington Carrier Group is a very clear message to both China and North Korea. The Chinese can not be very happy that CVN-73 is docked in the Korean Port of Busan. They would much rather this hunk of steel still be at its homeport of Yokosuka, Japan. Instead the Chinese will have a whole bunch of heavily armed naval hardware sailing around the Korean peninsula.
Let’s hope that this turns out to be just another non-event. Let’s hope that the ships play their little sailor games and then go home: point made.