White House press secretary Sean Spicer defended a mix-up involving an aircraft carrier that members of the Trump administration said had been ordered to sail toward the Korean Peninsula amid threats from North Korea.
The US announced on April 8 that the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier would head to the Korean Peninsula, but the US Navy posted a picture on April 15 of the carrier about 3,500 miles away from the area, going in the opposite direction.
Before the mix-up was revealed, a spokesman for the US Pacific Command had said the deployment was in response to the “No. 1 threat in the region,” North Korea, and its “reckless, irresponsible and destabilizing program of missile tests and pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability.”
And President Donald Trump himself spoke about the deployment, saying the US was sending a “very powerful” armada toward North Korea. When asked whether he thought Trump spoke too quickly, Spicer defended the statement.
“The president said that we have an armada going toward the peninsula,” Spicer said. “That’s a fact. It happened. It is happening, rather.”
Another reporter warned that US allies like South Korea and Japan could interpret the mix-up as “false encouragement” that the US was responding to provocations from North Korea.
South Korean presidential candidate Hong Joon-pyo told The Wall Street Journal of the carrier mix-up: “What Mr. Trump said was very important for the national security of South Korea. If that was a lie, then during Trump’s term, South Korea will not trust whatever Trump says.”
“The statement that was put out was that the Carl Vinson group was headed to the Korean Peninsula. It is headed to the Korean peninsula.
The reporter pointed out that while the aircraft carrier is headed there now, it wasn’t headed there last week when the statements were put out.
“But that’s not what we ever said,” Spicer said. “We said that it was heading there, and it was heading there, it is heading there.”
Spicer said the USS Carl Vinson’s “ultimate destination” was the Korean Peninsula and that “that’s where it ended up.”
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