• Kyodo

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The aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk left Thursday from the U.S. Navy base here to monitor the Korean Peninsula, navy sources said.

The sources said the 83,960-ton Kitty Hawk is expected to stand by off Japan, given increasing tensions in North and South Korea following Pyongyang’s announcement of its withdrawal from an international nuclear accord, and will not head for Iraq.

A local citizens’ group protested the move, raising a banner reading, “Don’t Kill,” on a pleasure boat.

On Jan. 10, North Korea stunned the world by withdrawing from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty amid allegations, and its own reported admission, that it is developing nuclear weapons.

According to the navy sources, the U.S. has yet to issue orders for the Kitty Hawk to be involved in a possible attack on Iraq.

The U.S. has threatened to attack Iraq if Baghdad fails to dismantle its weapons of mass destruction and has been beefing up forces in the region.

During the U.S.-led military campaign in Afghanistan following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the U.S., the Kitty Hawk was stationed in the Indian Ocean and used as a base for special forces missions.

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