Partisan divide over Trump's handling of North Korea

US Navy aircraft carrier the USS Carl Vinson

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Officials announced the deployment about two weeks ago, with President Trump hyping the deployment of the "armada" to North Korea, suggesting that the deployment was a major show of force, and fueling global concern that the United States is about to attack. This contradicts earlier announcements by USA authorities that the supercarrier strike group was heading towards the Korean Peninsula amid possibilities of North Korean provocations. It did not conduct a nuclear weapons test or attempt an attack on South Korea or Japan, which might have prompted a military crisis.

The U.S. Navy's Flickr account is not usually a source of headline news, but it drew considerable attention on Tuesday after a new photo of the carrier Carl Vinson appeared to contradict widespread reports of her impending arrival off North Korea.

A Trump administration official said Washington was concerned about the possibility of some kind of North Korean provocation around the time of the South Korean election on May 9.

Pentagon chief Jim Mattis on 11 April said the Vinson was "on her way up" to the peninsula. Multiple US defense officials told CNN that Mattis had inadvertently misspoke and that it was a port visit in Australia that was canceled to allow for the group's redeployment to the waters near the Korean Peninsula.

"We have submarines. Very powerful, far more powerful than the aircraft carrier, that I can tell you, " Trump told Maria Bartiromo in a pre-taped interview that aired April 12. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster also said it was a "prudent" decision to send the ships to deter the North.

"The President said we have an armada going towards the Peninsula", he said."That's a fact".

"The President said that we have an armada going towards the peninsula", White House spokesman Sean Spicer said.

It is not clear whether the failure to arrive was a deliberate deception, perhaps created to frighten North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un, a change of plan or simple miscommunication, the BBC's Korea correspondent Stephen Evans says.

The White House declined to comment to the Times.

But some questioned why the timeline was not corrected earlier given the tensions involving nuclear-armed North Korea.

Speaking aboard the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier at the US Yokosuka naval base in Tokyo Bay, Mr Pence said the Trump administration would continue to "work diligently" with allies such as Japan, China and other global powers to apply economic and diplomatic pressure on Pyongyang.

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