A presidential candidate from South Korea’s former ruling party said Wednesday that confusion over the mission of a U.S. aircraft carrier in the region could cause South Korea to "not trust" what President Trump says for the remainder of his term.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Hong Joon-pyo, the candidate from Park Geun-hye’s party, said Trump’s earlier comments about moving the USS Carl Vinson toward North Korea in a show of force spurred by that rogue nation's nuclear program was important to South Korea’s security.
The U.S. Navy said Tuesday it did not immediately move the carrier toward North Korea despite President Trump’s earlier comments made on Fox Business that he was sending an “armada” to deter Pyongyang.
"We are sending an armada, very powerful. We have submarines, very powerful, far more powerful than the aircraft carrier,” Trump told the Fox Business Network’s Maria Bartiromo last week. “We have the best military people on Earth. And I will say this: [Kim Jong Un] is doing the wrong thing.”
Military officials said at the time the Vinson was canceling a previous itinerary and instead was going to head toward the Korean Peninsula. The ship is indeed expected to reach the peninsula -- but only after first steaming towards Australia.
The White House said it did not mislead allies about the ship’s movements.
“The president said we have an armada going toward the peninsula,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer said. “That’s a fact. It happened. It is happening, rather.”
Narushige Michishita, a professor at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies, told the Journal that regardless of whether the U.S. intended to deceive or the narrative was a miscommunication, it looked bad for the White House.
“At a time of emergency, disinformation could be used as a tactic, but if the U.S. president spreads disinformation in peacetime like now, it would hurt the credibility of the U.S.,” he said.