The USS Carl Vinson (left) in the waters off Indonesia, with the USS Michael Murphy (center) and the USS Lake Champlain, Apr. 14.

North Korea says its nuclear programme is defensive but it is trying to develop weapons small enough to put on ballistic missiles.

The propaganda statement also described sanctions as “pressure from the hostile forces beyond anyone’s imagination” that paves the way for “the nuclear weapons of the United States and a pre-emptive strike” against North Korea.

The location of the USS Carl Vinson been headline news after U.S. President Donald Trump said he was sending “an armada” to Korean waters on April 12. “Very powerful”, Trump told Fox Business Channel’s Maria Bartiromo.

The US Navy also did not disclose where the aircraft carrier was heading when the incident happened.

In the event of an attack, it said, “The world will witness how Washington’s rash nuclear aircraft carriers are turned into a huge pile of steel and buried at sea and how a country called America is wiped out from the Earth”.

South Korea has put is forces on heightened alert. It still hasn’t arrived. It will probably reach the peninsula on Thursday, he added.

If Trump’s initial declaration was a bluff, it appears to have worked.

Japan’s show of naval force reflects growing concern that North Korea could strike it with nuclear or chemical warheads. “However, it’s different (for a) political leader”, Yang Moo-jin, of the University of North Korean Studies, told CNN.

“How does the United States expect South Koreans to trust the USA when its leader bluffs and exaggerates?”

Russian Federation and China, two key players in the conflict other than Japan, South Korea and United States, have also been deploying their troops and tanks near their respective borders with North Korea over fears the USA is preparing to attack Kim Jong-un.

The statement was carried in the newspaper alongside a two-page feature of rotund ruler Kim visiting a pig farm.

Pentagon chief Jim Mattis said the Vinson was “on her way up”.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer on Wednesday denied that the administration misled the public about the strike group’s destination.

North Korea is on a quest to develop long-range missiles and has threatened the USA that the missiles will be capable of hitting the U.S. mainland with a nuclear warhead.