The deployment comes after Pyongyang accused the US of deploying strategic assets to the region under the pretext of the security at the Olympic Games in South Korea, which are set to kick off on Friday.
The US Navy has announced sending USS Dewey and USS Sterett guided missile destroyers for a deployement in the Indo-Pacific region in order to support an “up-gunned” strike group, comprising Wasp-class amphibious assault ship that arrived at the port of the US base in the Japanese Nagasaki prefecture in January.
According to the press release, the warships “enhance an amphibious force’s ability to conduct its primary mission of ship-to-shore movement in the littorals, particularly in a contested environment.” They also possess sensors and weapons to detect and neutralize undersea, surface, and air threats that are vital to protecting the amphibious force.
“While on deployment, Dewey and Sterett will train with forward-deployed amphibious ships across all mission areas and further refine tactics, techniques, and procedures integrating with an expeditionary strike group,” the press release reads.
The deployment comes just weeks after Pyongyang blamed Washington for bringing its strategic assets to and around the Korean peninsula “under the pretext of the security of the Olympic games.”
Despite the agreement with Seoul to suspend joint military drills in the wake of the 2018 Winter Olympic Games, the US sent one new amphibious assault ship, an extra aircraft carrier and a slew of bombers to the Indo-Pacific region in January.
The move prompted North Korea’s backlash, with North Korean Foreign Minister stating, “While the North and South […] are opening a page of peace, the United States is deploying strategic means, including strike joints of nuclear aircraft carriers around the Korean Peninsula, trying to deliberately exacerbate the situation.”
Most recently, the North Korean envoy to UN disarmament talks stated that US military reinforcements “are designed to make a pre-emptive strike against the DPRK.”
Following breakthrough talks initiated by the New Year address by Kim Jong-un, the two Koreas agreed that their national teams will march together under a “unified Korea” flag at the opening ceremony for the 2018 Winter Olympics and form a joint women’s ice hockey team. North Korean athletes will also compete in figure skating, short track and skiing.