| SEOUL, March 14
SEOUL, March 14 North Korea warned the United
States on Tuesday of "merciless" attacks if an aircraft carrier
strike group led by the USS Carl Vinson, which is joining South
Korean forces for exercises, infringes on its sovereignty or
North Korea, which has alarmed its neighbours with two
nuclear tests and a string of missile launches since last year,
said the arrival of the U.S. strike group was part of a
"reckless scheme" to attack it.
"If they infringe on the DPRK's sovereignty and dignity even
a bit, its army will launch merciless ultra-precision strikes
from ground, air, sea and underwater," the North's state KCNA
news agency said.
North Korea's official name is the Democratic People's
Republic of Korea (DPRK).
"On March 11 alone, many enemy carrier-based aircraft flew
along a course near territorial air and waters of the DPRK to
stage drills of dropping bombs and making surprise attacks on
the ground targets of its army," KCNA said.
A U.S. Navy spokesman said the Carl Vinson was on a regular,
scheduled deployment to the region during which it would take
part in exercises with the forces of ally South Korea.
Last week, North Korea fired four ballistic missiles into
the sea off Japan in response to annual U.S.-South Korea
military drills, which the North sees as preparation for war.
The murder in Malaysia last month of North Korean leader Kim
Jong Un's estranged half-brother has added to a sense of urgency
to efforts to handle North Korea.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is due to make his
first visit to South Korea on Friday.
Last week, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations said
President Donald Trump's administration was re-evaluating its
North Korea strategy and "all options are on the table".
Exacerbating regional tension, China is vehemently opposed
to the deployment in South Korea of an advanced U.S.
The United States and South Korea say the Terminal High
Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system is for defence
against North Korea, but China fears its powerful radar can
probe deep into its territory and compromise its security.
The United States began to deploy the system a week ago, a
day after North Korea launched its latest four missile tests.
South Korean and U.S. troops began the large-scale joint
drills, which are billed as defensive in nature, on March 1.
The exercise last year involved about 17,000 American troops
and more than 300,000 South Koreans. South Korea has said this
year's exercise would be of a similar scale.
China has also repeatedly expressed concern about the
U.S.-South Korean exercises, saying they do nothing to ease
The United States has also started to deploy "Gray Eagle"
attack drones to South Korea, a U.S. military spokesman said on
The USS Carl Vinson led a carrier strike group in early
March to the South China Sea, amid some confusion about U.S.
staying power in the region under a Trump administration that
has policies skewed heavily towards a domestic agenda.
(Reporting by James Pearson; Editing by Robert Birsel and Paul