US military strategists at the Pentagon have a military solution in place to address the growing threat emanating from North Korea, but they are holding their fire in favor of ongoing diplomatic efforts by Washington and its allies, Defense Secretary James Mattis said Thursday.
On Tuesday, President Donald Trump said North Korean threats to respond to a U.S. strike with nuclear weapons "will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen", rhetoric that no previous American president has ever used with North Korea.
President Donald Trump continued to scold both North Korea and China on Thursday, and a White House aide blasted Secretary of State Rex Tillerson for attempting to calm the public's fears that Washington is slipping into an unwanted war with Pyongyang.
South Korea's military says North Korea will face a "stern and strong" response from Washington and Seoul if it acts on threats to fire missiles near Guam.
Early on, Trump announced that he had undertaken "a military operation" to get "really bad dudes out of this country, and at a rate that nobody's ever seen before".
South Korea's national security adviser Chung Eui-yong and his US counterpart H.R. McMaster spoke on the phone for 40 minutes early on Friday, a spokesman for the presidential Blue House in Seoul said.
Trump's "fire and fury" remarks prompted warnings from USA officials and analysts not to engage in rhetorical games with Pyongyang.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's unofficial job title could be translator-in-chief.
Tillerson, who spent the past days in Asia working the North Korea conflict, said he didn't believe a new diplomatic strategy was needed.
Japan said Thursday it could shoot down missiles for its USA ally if North Korea fires them at Guam.
Schaefer says it's important for recently tightened U.N. Security Council sanctions against North Korea to be implemented. But if the US military is preparing for a major conflict, there is little evidence of it.
While Trump said the nuclear arsenal was more powerful than ever before, US officials say it takes decades to actually modernize nuclear weapons.
But back home, there is great concern over the tough talk from Trump.
The mixed signals are unsafe, analysts say, as North Korea and the U.S. edge closer to the brink.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert says the White House, State Department and Pentagon are all in agreement.
"The words were his own".
Democratic Sen. Jack Reed, the top Democrat on the committee, said Trump's words were counterproductive.
It says North Korea will complete a plan by mid-August for the "historic enveloping fire at Guam", convey it to the commander in chief of its nuclear force and then "wait for his order".
"Whether we've got them backed into a corner or not is hard to say, but diplomatically, you never like to have someone in a corner without a way for them to get out".
'The current situation on the Korean Peninsula is highly complicated and sensitive.