* U.S. strike group Carl Vinson heading to Korean peninsula
* N.Korea nuclear, missile test feared as key anniversaries
* Prospect of US action vs N.Korea seen rising after Syria
By Ju-min Park and Nobuhiro Kubo
SEOUL/TOKYO, April 10 A Chinese envoy arrives in
South Korea on Monday to discuss North Korea's increasingly
defiant weapons programme as a U.S. Navy strike group heads to
the region amid concerns Pyongyang may be readying a fresh
North Korea marks several major anniversaries this month and
often marks the occasions with major tests of military hardware.
The possibility of U.S. military action against North Korea
in response to such a test emerged as an option following last
week's U.S. strikes against Syria. It was further fuelled by
comments from U.S. President Donald Trump's top aides on the
In Tokyo, the feasibility of U.S. military action was
downplayed, while South Korea said the focus remained on
deterrence and readiness.
“It probably is not realistic for the U.S. to attack North
Korea," a Japanese defence ministry source said. "If America
says it is going to attack, both Japan and South Korea will
probably put a stop to it," said the source who declined to be
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the U.S. military
strike against Syria over its alleged use of chemical weapons
was a warning to other countries including North Korea that "a
response is likely" if they pose a danger.
"(Chinese) President Xi (Jinping) clearly understands, and I
think agrees, that the situation has intensified and has reached
a certain level of threat that action has to be taken,"
Tillerson said on CBS's Face the Nation.
China's Special Representative for Korean Peninsula Affairs
Wu Dawei is expected to discuss the North's nuclear issue with
his South Korean counterpart, according to the South Korean
Wu's trip comes after Trump and Xi met in Florida, where
Trump pressed his counterpart to do more to curb North Korea's
SHOW OF FORCE
The U.S. Navy strike group Carl Vinson canceled a planned
trip to Australia and is moving toward the western Pacific Ocean
near the Korean peninsula as a show of force, a U.S. official
told Reuters over the weekend. "We feel the increased presence
is necessary," the official said.
South Korean and U.S. forces are also involved in annual
joint military drills that run until the end of April. The North
calls the drills preparations for war against it.
Several North Korean anniversaries in April could be
opportunity for Pyongyang to conduct nuclear or missile tests,
South Korean defence ministry spokesman Moon Sang-kyun said.
North Korea has invited a large number of foreign media
representatives to Pyongyang this week, likely to cover the
so-called "Day of the Sun" birth anniversary on April 15 of the
state founder Kim Il Sung.
Moon did not directly respond to a question about the
possibility of a U.S. military strike against the North.
"Considering the possibility of North Korea's strategic
provocations such as a nuclear test and missile launches, we
have in place deterrence to the North's provocation and all
readiness against them," he told a briefing on Monday.
Senior envoys of South Korea, Japan and the United State on
the North Korea nuclear programme will soon meet to discuss
their coordinated response, the South's foreign ministry said.
North Korea sounded a note of defiance on Saturday calling
the U.S. strikes against Syria "an unforgivable act of
aggression" that showed its decision to develop nuclear weapons
was "the right choice."
North Korea launched a ballistic missile on Wednesday that
flew a short distance before spinning out of control and
crashing into the sea, the latest of a number of missile tests
defying U.N. sanctions.
The North is also seen to be ready to conduct its sixth
nuclear test at any time, with movements detected by satellites
at its Punggye-ri nuclear test site.
(Editing by Jack Kim and Lincoln Feast)