U.S. deploys warship off ROK amid soaring tensions on peninsula

2013-04-02 01:55:29 GMT2013-04-02 09:55:29(Beijing Time)  SINA.com
The guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain approaches the aircraft carrier USS George Washington for a fueling at sea in this December 5, 2010 handout photo courtesy of the U.S. (Photo:Agencies)The guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain approaches the aircraft carrier USS George Washington for a fueling at sea in this December 5, 2010 handout photo courtesy of the U.S. (Photo:Agencies)

The United States has positioned a warship off the Korean coast as a shield against ballistic missile attack as South Korea's new president vowed swift retaliation against a strike of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) amid soaring tensions on the peninsula.

But Washington also said it had seen no worrisome mobilization of armed forces by the DPRK despite harsh rhetoric over a ramping up of international sanctions against Pyongyang over nuclear weapons tests.

"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 told the defense minister and senior officials.

DPRK says the region is on the brink of a nuclear war in the wake of U.N. sanctions in response to its February nuclear test and a series of joint U.S. and South Korean military drills that have included a rare U.S. show of aerial power.

In Washington, the White House has said the United States takes seriously DPRK's war threats. But White House spokesman Jay Carney said on Monday: "I would note that despite the harsh rhetoric we are hearing from Pyongyang, we are not seeing changes to the DPRK’s military posture, such as large-scale mobilizations and positioning of forces."

DPRK further escalated its rhetoric on Saturday by saying it was entering a "state of war" with South Korea in response to what it termed the "hostile" military drills.

A U.S. defense official said the USS McCain, an Aegis-class guided-missile destroyer used for ballistic missile defense, was being positioned off the peninsula's southwestern coast.

"This is a prudent move that provides greater missile defense options should (they) become necessary," said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity. The ship was not expected to participate in any exercises, the official added.

South Korea has changed its rules of engagement to allow local units to respond immediately to attacks, rather than waiting for permission from Seoul.

(Agencies)

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