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The move is in response to the Communist regime's "reckless, irresponsible" recent missile tests, a U.S. Navy official said.

These include economic and military measures but lean more towards sanctions and increased pressure on China to restrain North Korea. China has always been North Korea's primary ally, supporting the hermit state with food, energy and most of its economic trade.

An American navy strike group is moving toward the Korean Peninsula amid tension in the region over North Korea's missile provocations.

Indeed, over the past couple of weeks virtually all of the "provocation", beyond one failed missile test, has been on the U.S. side, with the moves seen primarily as trying to pressure China ahead of last week's visit by President Xi Jinping.

The US Pacific Command ordered the group - which includes several missile destroyers and cruisers - to sail north from Singapore on Saturday, according to the US Navy.

But last week's illegal USA air strike against the Syrian military was held up by North Korea as proof it needs nuclear weapons to deter a similar attack.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson insisted in an interview broadcast on Sunday that the United States does not intend to try to remove the regime of Kim Jong-Un. The USS Carl Vinson is the third Nimitz-class supercarrier operated by the U.S. Launched in 1980, the ship is one of ten nuclear-powered aircraft carriers named after former U.S. Admirial, Chester Nimitz. "The DPRK has the will and capability to fully respond to any war the USA would like to ignite", the state-run Korean Central News Agency quoted a foreign ministry spokesman as saying, according to the South Korean newswire service Yonhap.

"If we judge that they have perfected that type of delivery system, then that becomes a very serious stage of their further development", said Tillerson.

"President Xi 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 Thursday and Friday, US President Donald Trump hosted his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping for talks during which he pressed Pyongyang's key ally to help curb the North's nuclear weapons program.

"The deployment seems to reflect the (U.S) perception of the seriousness of the situation on the Korean Peninsula", the defense ministry's spokesman Moon Sang-gyun said at a press briefing.

North Korea denounced Thursday's attack as an act of "intolerable aggression" and one that justified "a million times over" the North's push toward a credible nuclear deterrent. China has always been an ally of North Korea, though North Korea's state-run news agency recently criticized China's "mean behavior" after it enforced sanctions on coal imports from North Korea.