|U.S. Navy personnel prepare to launch an F-18 fighter from the U.S.S. Carl Vinson during|
a routine exercise in the South China Sea, 3 March 2017. REUTERS/Erik De Castro/File Photo
A U.S. Navy strike group will be moving toward the western Pacific Ocean near the Korean peninsula as a show of force, a U.S. official told Reuters on Saturday, as concerns grow about North Korea's advancing weapons program.
Earlier this month North Korea tested a liquid-fueled Scud missile which only traveled a fraction of its range.
The strike group includes an aircraft carrier, the U.S.S. Carl Vinson, and will make its way from Singapore toward the Korean peninsula, according to the official, who was not authorized to speak to the media and requested anonymity.
"We feel the increased presence is necessary," the official said, citing North Korea's worrisome behavior.
The news was first reported by Reuters.
In a statement late Saturday, the U.S. Navy's Third Fleet said the strike group had been directed to sail north, but it did not specify the destination. The military vessels will operate in the Western Pacific rather than making previously planned port visits to Australia, it added.
This year North Korean officials, including leader Kim Jong Un, have repeatedly indicated an intercontinental ballistic missile test or something similar could be coming, possibly as soon as April 15, the 105th birthday of North Korea's founding president and celebrated annually as "the Day of the Sun."