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Shutterbugs, not spies, tip North Korea to presence of U.S. carrier

SEOUL, May 8 (UPI) — South Korean shutterbugs appear to have inadvertently tipped off North Korea to the presence of a U.S. aircraft carrier in the region, military officials say.

North Korea’s state news service mentioned the carrier, the USS Nimitz, a day before South Korean media did, raising fears among U.S. and South Korean military officials of a phone tap or intelligence leak, Stars and Stripes reported Wednesday.

Instead, the news got out last weekend courtesy of a South Korean camera club, which noted on its website that people would be needed to drive sailors around after an aircraft carrier docked in Busan this coming Saturday, the South Korean Ministry of Defense said.

Posts by the camera club and other information on the Internet by the U.S. Navy that the Nimitz had entered the jurisdiction of the 7th Fleet could have led Pyongyang to conclude the nuclear-powered carrier was on the way, a Defense Ministry official said.

The United States and South Korea are staging two joint military exercises within the next week in which the Nimitz will participate. Officials said the exercises are routine.

A U.S. Navy spokesman said visits by U.S. military vessels are usually announced only the day before.

North Korea has pledged to take immediate countermeasures if any shells from the exercises fall in its waters.

Copyright 2013 United Press International, Inc. (UPI).

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