Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who is presently in Seoul, said on Friday that Washington would consider military action against North Korea if it was provoked.
Speaking in Seoul at a joint press conference with South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se, Tillerson said Washington's policy of "strategic patience" had ended, reports the CNN.
"Certainly, we do not want things to get to a military conflict... but obviously if North Korea takes actions that threatens the South Korean forces or our own forces, then that would be met with an appropriate response," he said.
"If they elevate the threat of their weapons program to a level that we believe that requires action, that option is on the table," Tillerson added.
The Secretary of State is on a three-country tour to the region amid heightened tensions on the Korean peninsula following recent North Korea missile launches, and fears it's preparing for another nuclear test.
Earlier in Tokyo on Thursday, Tillerson said that efforts over the past 20 years to prevent a nuclear North Korea had failed.
A senior Chinese official told CNN this week that Beijing plans to present its own plan to Tillerson during his visit.
In South Korea, Tillerson called on China to give up its opposition to the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system or act to "address the threat that makes THAAD necessary." The missile defense system is in the process of being deployed in the country's south.
He also urged Beijing to end any retaliatory action against South Korea, amid allegations businesses and the tourism industry is being punished for Seoul's stance on deployment of THAAD.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)