U.S. Military Sends War Ship to Japan Ahead of Trump's North Korea Summit

The U.S. Navy sent one of its most advanced warships to Japan in the lead up to a planned summit in Singapore between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

The guided missile destroyer USS Milius arrived in Japan on Tuesday, as South Korean President Moon Jae-in arrives in Washington to urge Trump to pursue the diplomatic route with North Korea. Nevertheless, experts said the ship could help protect Japan against a ballistic missile strike from its rogue neighbor, since USS Milius is equipped with missiles designed to shoot down warheads.

Over the past month, North and South Korea have discussed ways to avoid conflict in the region and denuclearize the Korean peninsula. North Korea, however, is notoriously unpredictable. South Korea has been advocating for North Korea and the U.S. to enter into diplomatic discussions about Pyongyang's nuclear program, and a meeting between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jung Un has been scheduled for June 12.

But Pyongyang has cast doubt on whether it will go through with the talks. In a statement released last week, North Korea suggested that it would call off the talks if Trump insists that the country give up all of its nuclear weapons.

"If the U.S. is trying to drive us into a corner to force our unilateral nuclear abandonment, we will no longer be interested in such dialogue and cannot but reconsider our proceeding to the DPRK-U.S. summit," North Korean officials said in the statement.

Happening now: USS Milius arrives at its new homeport at Yokosuka Naval Base. https://t.co/v6rBCoFuMc

— Caitlin Doornbos (@CaitlinDoornbos) May 22, 2018

Trump, meanwhile, recently warned that North Korea would be "decimated" if it doesn't strike a deal on its nuclear program. With this in mind, some countries have started preparing for the worst.

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will visit Russia this week, where a contingency plan will be discussed to prepare for the possibility that the U.S.-North Korea summit falls apart. Experts said Russia could also play an influential role in negotiating with North Korea, since Moscow has repeatedly been accused of helping Pyongyang avoid international sanctions.

However, Russia will likely balk at the presence of a U.S. warship in Japan. In late 2017, Russian officials accused Washington of violating international arms control treaties by supplying military equipment, including a missile defense system, to Tokyo. It is unclear how the decision to send the Milius to Japan will impact Abe's meeting later in the week with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is wary of any U.S. military presence in Asia.

The ship will be stationed at the U.S. naval base in Yokosuka, Japan.