Donald Trump boasted last week that he had sent an “armada” as a warning to North Korea but it turns out it was actually going in the opposite direction.
Speaking to Fox News, the US president said of the aircraft carrier’s re-routing: “We are sending an armada, very powerful. We have submarines, very powerful, far more powerful than the aircraft carrier.
“We have the best military people on Earth. And I will say this: He is doing the wrong thing.”
But at that very moment, the aircraft carrier was in fact moving through the Sunda Strait between the islands of Indonesia and on into the Indian Ocean where it was due to take part in a training exercise with the Australian Navy, Reuters reported.
The US military’s Pacific Command has gone on to explain that its training had now been completed and that the strike group was now “proceeding to the Western Pacific as ordered”.
The group is now due to arrive near the Korea Peninsula early next week.
The perceived communications mix-up has raised eyebrows among Korea experts, who wonder whether it erodes the Trump administration’s credibility at a time when US rhetoric about the North’s advancing nuclear and missile capabilities are raising concerns about a potential conflict.
North Korea expert Joel Wit at the 38 North monitoring group, run by Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies, told Reuters: “If you threaten them and your threat is not credible, it’s only going to undermine whatever your policy toward them is.
“And that could be a logical conclusion from what’s just happened.”
Tensions have been building between North Korea and the US.
North Korean state media has warned of a nuclear attack on the US in retaliation for any signs of aggression, a threat that has been made numerous times before.
The secretive state ignored international warnings by conducting a failed missile test, raising heightened tensions with the US further still.
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson warned North Korea to comply with the United Nations after the launch.